Charlottesville car crash suspect faces second-degree murder charge

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-13 15:04:04|Editor: Zhou Xin
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The driver whose car rammed into a crowd near a planned white nationalist rally Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, the U.S. state of Virginia, is facing charges of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in a deadly accident.

The 20-year-old man, identified as James Alex Fields Jr., is from Maumee, the mid-west state of Ohio, according to Superintendent Martin Kumer with the Albermarle-Charlottesville County Regional Jail.

Video on social media showed a car at high speed rear-ended another car, then backed up and rammed into pedestrians.

At least one was killed and 19 injured during the car crash shortly after the police dispersed the "Unite the Right" rally in the downtown.

The dead is reportedly a 32-year-old woman who was crossing the street at the moment.

Local police said the crash is still under investigation, with no further details revealed.

Hours after the car crash, two Virginia state troopers were killed after a police helicopter crashed 7 miles (11 km) southwest of the historic college town, increasing the death toll in connection with the white supremacist rally to three.

"I have a message to white supremacists and nazis who came into Charlottesville today," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said at a televised press conference on Saturday evening.

"Go home. You are not patriots. You came here today to hurt people. There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America," the governor said.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday afternoon he condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." However, he did not mention white nationalists and the alt-right movement in his remarks.

Just before the incident, McAuliffe declared a state of emergency as thousands of white nationalists, neo-Confederates and right-wing protesters, as well as groups that oppose them, clashed at the Emancipation Park, the planned site of the rally.

Charlottesville, home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, has become the latest Southern battleground over the contested removal of Confederate monuments.

In April, the city council voted to remove the bronze statue of pro-slavery Confederate General Robert Lee. The removal is on hold pending litigation but has angered many white supremacists since the council voting.

"This represents a turning point for the people of this country," former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke spoke at the rally, "We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."

Before the Saturday rally, hundreds of white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night, waving torches and chanting "White lives matter", "You will not replace us", "Jews will not replace us" and so on.

Many protesters "express beliefs that directly contradict our community's values of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect," Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, said in another statement released hours before the rally.