CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—A horrible day has just gotten worse after a car plowed into peaceful counterprotesters beginning a march against a racist rally early Saturday afternoon. At least one person, a 32-year-old woman, was killed in the crash.
A silver car, seemingly deliberately, crashed at high speed into demonstrators on a small side street in the center of town and then into the back of another car, before backing up and fleeing. The counterprotesters were a diverse crowd of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Democratic Socialist activists.
“Oh my God, people are badly hurt,” a man live-streaming the march says as he describes the attack that happened directly in front of him. “A car just drove into people causing a multi-chain accident…A car just drove into people. Somebody is really badly injured on the ground. And then the car smashed into other cars and backed out of there. It was completely tinted up.”
A handful of protesters were left bleeding. One person appeared to be having a heart attack and was receiving CPR. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told reporters Saturday evening that at least 35 people had been injured in the attack.
The attack can be seen in the following video at minute 7:30 (Warning: the images are disturbing):
The car drove through a side street during a momentary feeling of joy and victory—the counterprotesters were chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” after police broke up the main event.
A statement from city officials, published by The Daily Progress, said: “Charlottesville Police and Virginia State Police are on the scene of a three vehicle accident at Water and 4th Streets in Downtown Charlottesville. Multiple injuries are reported. People should clear the area to allow emergency medical personnel to respond. We will release more information as we are able.”
Update, 2:38 p.m.: Here’s another video from a different angle, which clearly shows the vehicle used in the attack and the aftermath. It appears to confirm the crash was intentional.
A Charlottesville police officer has confirmed to Splinter that the driver of the car has been arrested.
Update 2, 3:47 p.m.: Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer has confirmed via Twitter that at least one person has died following the attack, although he did not clarify if that person had been struck by the car. The “heartbroken” mayor urged everyone to go home:
Update 3, 6:55 p.m.: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe confirmed to reporters at a press conference Saturday evening that three people had died in Charlottesville following the white supremacist rally: an unidentified woman in the car crash and two unidentified people in a helicopter crash near the site of the protests.
A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed to BuzzFeed News that a state police helicopter crashed about seven miles southwest of the city.
McAuliffe condemned the white nationalist protesters, saying they should “go home.”
“You are not wanted in this great commonwealth,” he said. “Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.”
Update 4, 6:59 p.m.: Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas confirmed that the woman killed in today’s car crash was 32-years-old. Police, Thomas said, were still notifying her family and are withholding her name.
“The premeditated violence our community experience today was completely unacceptable,” he said.
Update 5, 7:05 p.m.: President Trump appeared to confirmed that the two people who died in the helicopter crash near the rally site on Saturday where Virginia state police.
Update 6, 7:29 p.m.: Hours later, and 30 minutes after first honoring the police officers who died in the helicopter crash, Trump finally acknowledges the woman who was killed protesting the horde of racists.
Update 7, 9:11 p.m.: Albermarle-Charlottesville County Regional Jail confirmed that the man being held in connection with the deadly car crash is James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, of Maumee, OH. He is “being held on suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death,” CNN reports.
Here’s a photo of Fields participating in the neo–Nazi rally earlier in the day, before the attack, third from right:
Update 8, 9:40 p.m.:
Update 9, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.: Friends and family have identified the fatal victim of Saturday’s attack as 32–year–old Heather Heyer from Virginia. Read more here:
—Additional reporting by Aleksander Chan. This story is developing.