Charlottesville: man charged with murder after car rams counter-protesters

[8/13/17]  A man has been arrested and charged with murder after a car rammed into a group of people peacefully protesting against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing one person and injuring 19.

Police said the fatal victim was a 32-year-old woman and that they were attempting to notify her family before releasing more details.

Col Martin Kumer, the superintendent of Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, told the Guardian that 20-year-old James Fields of Ohio had been arrested following the attack.

“He has been charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death,” Kumer said in an email.

Ohio state vehicle registration records show that a Dodge Challenger car with a licence plate matching the one used in the attack is registered to Fields at his address in Maumee.

In a separate incident, a police helicopter crashed in a wooded area outside the city, killing two people, Associated Press reported. It was not clear if the crash was linked to the rally; police said nobody on the ground was injured and that they were investigating the cause.

The deaths came at the end of a day marked by violent clashes between far-right nationalists and people who had come to protest their occupation of a downtown park containing a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee.

Donald Trump condemned the “violence on many sides”, but faced criticism for failing to directly denounce the far-right demonstrators.

Witnesses said those hit by the car were people peacefully protesting the planned white supremacist rally and footage showed the vehicle crashing into another car, throwing people over the top of it.

The driver was later arrested, authorities said, on suspicion of criminal homicide.

The photographer Pat Jarrett, who was close by when the incident took place, told the Guardian: “A gray Dodge Charger plowed into a sedan and then into a minivan. Bodies flew. People were terrified and screaming. Those closest to it said it was definitely a violent attack. The driver, who people later described as a skinny white guy with a straggly beard, reversed out of there and drove off, the front end of his car all smashed up.”