What We Know About James Alex Fields Jr., Charlottesville’s Domestic Terrorist
What We Know About James Fields Jr.
Charlottesville, VA – A suspect has been arrested in an act of horrific violence that occurred on Saturday, August 12, that Republican lawmakers are calling an incident of domestic terrorism.
The suspect, identified as James Fields Jr., age 20, accelerated as he drove his 2010 silver Dodge Challenger into a crowd of Antifa marchers at the Unite for Right rally. He then reversed his car at high speed, within seconds, with his car’s front bumper dragging, and ran over more victims, according to Fox News.
Video (video below) and pictures showed the chaotic scene, which followed violent skirmishes between white nationalists who were holding a rally and counter-protesters from groups like Antifa.
Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, “I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Saturday night that a federal civil rights investigation has been opened into the case, according to CBS News. In a statement, he said:
“Violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day…
“The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning…
“U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.
“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”
A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was struck by Fields Jr.’s vehicle and killed as she crossed the street, and 19 others were injured. Heyer worked as a paralegal and was marching with the throng of people, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Five other victims are listed in critical condition, four in serious condition, six in fair condition, and four in good condition, according to The Washington Post.
Fields Jr. was arrested on Saturday afternoon, and is in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. He has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death. A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said in a press conference that the attack was “premeditated.”
Photos from the event show James Fields Jr. marching with Vanguard America, which has been identified as a white supremacists group by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the ADL, the group started out as a white nationalist group and then shifted over to neo-nazi ideology, calling for the recaptured glory of the “Aryan nation.”
Vanguard America has also promoted anti-semetic messages, tweeting in July, “Those behind the subversive elements eroding our culture often have something in common. Jewish influence is prevalent, invasive, dangerous.”
Vanguard America has responded, saying that James Fields Jr. was “in no way, a member of Vanguard America.” They claim that they just hand out their shields to anybody in attendance, and that he just happened to be wearing the same clothing as the rest of them.
Fields Jr.’s vehicle was confirmed to be registered to him by The Washington Post, despite reports from internet detectives who claimed it was registered to an “anti-Trump druggie.”
Fields Jr.’s last known address was in Maumee, a suburb of Toledo, and he does not appear to have a previous criminal history, with the exception of a citation for expired license plates from May.
James Fields Jr.’s former teacher said that Fields Jr. has long had neo-nazi beliefs, and that he was denied entry to the U.S. Army because of anti-psychotic mediation that was prescribed to him.
Samantha Bloom, Fields Jr. mother, told the Associated Press on Saturday that she was aware that her son was attending some sort of rally in Virginia, but did not know that it was a white supremacist rally.
Bloom said that her son grew up in Florence, Kentucky, and that they had just moved to Maumee because of her job’s relocation. When she learned about the injuries and death associated with her son, Bloom became visibly upset.
She said that he had moved out of her apartment about five or six months ago, and had texted her on Friday to tell her that he had left his cat at her apartment, and was going to a rally. Bloom said that she told him to be careful, and that if he was going to rally, that he should do it “peacefully”.
Fields Jr. was raised by a single mother that is paraplegic, after his father was killed by a drunk driver a few months before his birth, according to a family member who requested confidentiality.
His father left him money in a trust that he couldn’t access until he became an adult. The family member said that when Fields Jr. turned 18, “he demanded his money, and that was the last contact that he had with him”. He described Fields Jr. as “not really friendly, more subdued.”
Witness Chan Williams, who was with the crowd of Antifa, said she ‘heard a car engine rev up’, and saw people in front of her dodging a moving vehicle. She said that she didn’t know what was going on at first, and then saw the car “…hit bodies, legs in the air.”
Others described ‘bodies, shoes, and personal belongings flying through the air’. Victims cried out in pain, while others screamed, fled, and panicked, seeking help. An unknown witness was heard to scream, “Oh my God, he mowed down everybody.”
You can see video of the attack below. WARNING – Graphic content: