On Saturday, three people were killed and 19 injured during a counter-protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group was protesting the “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists that was taking place at the same time.
During the counter-protest, someone drove a car full speed into the group, killing one and injuring several others. Two state troopers died during the incident as well, when a helicopter crashed in a wooded area near the event.
The man accused of driving his car into the crowd, James Alex Fields Jr., had his first court appearance Monday morning. The 20-year-old had his initial court appearance before Judge Robert Downer, who determined whether he would be granted bail.
Fields is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder of 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer. He is also being accused of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.
CBS News correspondent, Kris Van Cleave, reported that people who knew Fields as a child remember him as someone who consistently used racial slurs. Many also said that they remember him being a fan of Adolf Hitler.
Derek Weimer, a high school teacher who knew Fields, said, “It was quite clear he had some really extreme views and maybe a little bit of anger behind them. Feeling, what’s the word I’m looking for, oppressed and persecuted. He really bought into this white supremacist thing. He was very big into Nazism. He really had a fondness of Adolf Hitler.”
Field’s high school principal said that he remembered his former student as quiet and reserved. Fields graduated in the spring of 2015 and decided to join the Army. Shortly after in December 2015, he left active duty. According to CNN, an Army spokeswoman said he failed to meet training standards.
Fields mother, Samantha Bloom, said that she knew her son was attending a rally but did not know what it was for. A photographer at the incident said that he noticed Fields immediately at the rally.
He said, “He just looked off, he had that kind of 1,000-yard stare; it just kinda grabbed me. Knowing what he did, it’s kind of haunting now, you know. At the time, I thought I was photographing someone who might just be, you know, a follower, you know, just along for the march, but obviously not.”
Fields appeared in a Charlottesville court room via video conference from his local jail cell on Monday morning. He did not enter a plea in connection with the murder of Heather Heyer, and was denied bond at his first appearance. He was represented by court-appointed attorney Charles Webber and was given an August 25 court date.
Please be praying for our country during this difficult time and for all of those affected by this tragic incident. To hear about how President Trump responded to the incident, read more here.