What we know about the violent clashes and car-ramming in Charlottesville

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The ramming of a car Saturday afternoon into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia, leaving one dead and several injured at the scene, has left many lawmakers and ordinary Americans shocked and upset.

And there were two other fatalities related to the rally: A Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into woods nearby, killing two officers. Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates died at the scene, according to authorities.

Heading into Sunday, law enforcement officials hope to gain a better idea of the suspect’s motives and his background, while relatives of the injured pray for their loved ones.

Below, a primer on the deadly incident and the details we know so far: 

WHAT HAPPENED

The chaos kicked off when a group of white nationalists — including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members — descended upon Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally. The gathering was spurred by the city’s plans to remove a Confederate statue from a local park. The white nationalists were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes. That, in turn, prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

Protesters gather at Justice Park in Charlottesville #cvilleaug12 pic.twitter.com/sprSzf0MTP

— VA State Police (@VSPPIO) August 12, 2017

As the counterprotesters were marching along a downtown street, a silver Dodge Challenger suddenly came barreling through the crowd. The impact tossed people into the air and left a 32-year-old woman dead. She has not yet been officially identified. 

WHO IS THE SUSPECT AND WHAT ARE THE CHARGES

Law enforcement officials said the driver is James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who recently moved to Ohio from Kentucky.

Fields, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene. A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday. 

WHO ELSE WAS ARRESTED

Virginia State Police announced on Saturday night that three additional arrests were made related to the rally.

The individuals were Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

UPDATE: 3 arrested in connection with events in Charlottesville today. #cvilleaug12 pic.twitter.com/kGAjfsMFv9

— VA State Police (@VSPPIO) August 13, 2017

THE INJURED

The University of Virginia Health System tweeted Saturday night that it had received 20 people following the car-slamming, including the woman who died. As of 7:36 p.m. — the hospital’s most recent update — five patients were in critical condition, four were in serious condition, six in fair condition and four in good condition.

As we noted earlier, one person has died. 5 patients are in critical condition, 4 in serious cond., 6 in fair, and 4 in good condition

— UVA Health System (@uvahealthnews) August 12, 2017

LAWMAKERS REACT

In remarks from his golf club in New Jersey, President Donald Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

The president’s implication that “many sides” were responsible for the violence, didn’t sit well with both lawmakers and private citizens.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., responded on Twitter.

Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017

Others were less blatantly critical of the president, but expressed their disgust at the rally and its attendees.

Sen. Ted Cruz slammed the violence associated with the rally and its aftermath in a strongly worded Facebook post.

“The Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred that they propagate,” Cruz wrote in the statement.

 Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the lone African-American Republican in the senate, also called the attack “domestic terror” and encouraged it to be “condemned.”

Domestic terror in #Charlottesville must be condemned by https://t.co/3gbI2ZFxr5. Otherwise hate is simply emboldened.

— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) August 12, 2017

 Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent and self-described democratic socialist, called the rally “reprehensible.”

The white nationalist demonstration in #Charlottesville is a reprehensible display of racism and hatred that has no place in our society.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 12, 2017

SUNDAY’S VIGILS AND SOLIDARITY RALLIES

A slew of gatherings across the country are slated for Sunday to stand in solidarity with Charlottesville.

In Washington, D.C., a candlelight vigil at the White House is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., the “Vigil for Justice” is slated for 5 p.m. at the World War II Memorial at the National Mall, and the “River of Light in Solidarity with #Charlottesville” vigil is slated for 7 p.m. at Lafayette Park.

Elsewhere, there are rallies scheduled in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Denver, New York City and Chicago.

A list of the many rallies can be found here.

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