CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — A civil rights investigation is now underway into an Ohio’s man attack on protesters in Virginia.
Reuters News Agency reported that, according to the FBI, “the civil rights probe will look at the crash where a man plowed a car into a crowd of people in Charlottesville, killing one.” James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee in Lucas County, rammed a crowd of protesters during a white supremacist rally Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”
According to The Daily Progress newspaper, Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and failing to stop at the scene of an accident that resulted in a death after a car plowed into a crowd on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 others were injured in the crash that occurred Saturday afternoon.
Fields is in custody at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. He is being held without bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.
According to a report in the Toledo Blade, Fields’ mother Samantha Bloom said her son told her last week that he was planning to attend the rally in Charlottesville. She said the last time she heard from her son was when he texted her on Friday to inform her that he had dropped off his cat at her home on his way to Virginia. Bloom said she was unaware of the nature of the rally, stating that she tried “to stay out of his political views.”
Records indicate that since moving to Maumee from Florence, Kentucky about a year ago, Fields’ only involvement with local law enforcement was a traffic violation on May 25 when he was charged with having expired or unlawful license plates on his 2010 Dodge Challenger. That was the same vehicle identified as the one used in the attack on protesters Saturday.
Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said 35 people were injured during the Unite the Right rally, staged by white nationalist groups in a local park, but which eventually spilled over into other parts of the city.
The University of Virginia Health System tweeted that 20 victims are being treated at its facility. The Twitter post stated that “5 patients are in critical condition, 4 in serious condition, 6 in fair, and 4 in good condition.”
Two Virginia State Police troopers died in a helicopter crash on Saturday near Charlottesville. They have been identified as H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Virginia, and Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia, according to The Daily Progress. Bates would’ve have turned 41 on Sunday.
The troopers in the helicopter were assisting law enforcement on the ground during the Unite the Right rally on Saturday. The cause of the crash has not been determined.
Reach Andrew Carter via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DelOhioEditor.