The man allegedly responsible for the death of an activist at a white supremacist rally in August is now facing federal hate crime charges.
James Alex Fields Jr., 21, was arrested last year after he drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors at a “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia, striking and injuring several people and killing 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer.
Fields, an Ohio resident, was indicted on Wednesday in the Western District of Virginia on 30 counts: one count of a hate crime act resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, 28 counts of hate crime acts causing bodily injury and involving an attempt to kill, and one count of racially motivated violent interference with a federally protected activity, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Fields also faces first-degree murder charges in state court, The New York Times reports.
Last year’s “Unite the Right” rally protested the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and drew hundreds of white supremacists and counter-protesters to Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park, The New York Times reports.
Fields, returning to his vehicle after an “unlawful assembly” was declared, “observed the crowd while idling” before he slowly reversed his vehicle, the indictment alleges. He then “rapidly accelerated, ran through a stop sign,” and “drove directly into the crowd, striking numerous individuals, killing Heather Heyer, and injuring many others.”
“Fields’s vehicle stopped only when it struck another vehicle near the intersection of Fourth and Water streets. He then rapidly reversed his vehicle and fled the scene,” the release continued.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the indictment in a statement included in the DOJ’s press release.
“At the Department of Justice, we remain resolute that hateful ideologies will not have the last word and that their adherents will not get away with violent crimes against those they target,” Sessions said.
“Last summer’s violence in Charlottesville cut short a promising young life and shocked the nation. Today’s indictment should send a clear message to every would-be criminal in America that we aggressively prosecute violent crimes of hate that threaten the core principles of our nation.”
[Photo: James Alex Fields Jr. mugshot. By Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via Getty Images. The silver Dodge Charger James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove into protesters passes by police officers on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. By Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images]