James Alex Fields was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, after police discovered that the car that rammed into the Charlottesville rally was registered in his name. A 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer died at the scene, and 19 additional people were injured from the crash. Nine patients are still in the hospital as of Monday, but they are in good condition. An additional two people died in a helicopter crash connected to the events.
Fields, 20, was raised by a single mom, after his dad was killed by a drunk driver shortly after he was born. His mother had called 911 twice in the past, telling officers that he had beaten her, AP reported. But when he was pulled over by police in May, he showed no signs of aggression. He was working as a security officer and was on vacation time while attending the rally. A high school teacher said that Fields had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was on medication.
The suspect is in jail, and was denied bond in an arraignment on Monday.
This is a developing story.
1. James Alex Fields, Jr., a Security Officer, Was Booked on Suspicion of Second-Degree Murder and Other Charges
James Alex Fields, Jr. was booked and charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, failure to stop for an accident involving a death, and hit-and-run, Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail Superintendent Martin Kumer told The Washington Post. Fields was born in Kenton, Kentucky.
The car that rammed into the crowd in Charlottesville was registered in his name. The car was a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger. Early rumors had pointed to a different man after Internet detectives tracked down the license plate. But that man, who won’t be named, said he had sold his gray 2010 Challenger. Those early rumors turned out to be unfounded.
According to Cincinnati.com, the Challenger was purchased by its latest owner in June 2015 in Florence, Kentucky, from Kerry Toyota. One month later the title was updated in Maumee. The vehicle was not stolen.
Fields does not appear to have a previous criminal history. He last lived in Maumee, Ohio, about 15 miles southwest of Toledo. He was working as a security officer for Securitas Security Services USA and was on previously requested vacation time when the crash occurred. Securitas said in a brief statement that he has since been fired.
Fields worked for Securitas from May 5, 2016 to July 5, 2016 and then from November 23, 2016 to Monday, when he was fired. He had a security officer license from Ohio and “performed his duties satisfactorily.”
Fields was denied bond when he was arraigned Monday in the Charlottesville General District Court. The public defenders office said they couldn’t represent him because of a conflict of interest: someone in the office was related to a person injured in the crash, Richmond.com reported. The judge assigned Charles Weber, a local attorney, to the case. Fields appeared in the courtroom via a video monitor.
According to witnesses, counter protesters were hit as they turned a corner during their protest march. They were chanting things like “our streets” in response to the words “Unite the Right.” This happened after police had dispersed a group of white nationalists, CBS reported.
Here is one video from the scene. WARNING: This video may be disturbing.
Here’s another video from the scene.
WARNING: This video is graphic and shows the moment the driver hit the crowd.
James Fields was briefly on active duty status with the Army, but only from August 18, 2015 to December 11, 2015. His mother had posted on Facebook about her son going to boot camp and being really happy about it. An Army spokesman told CNN that Fields didn’t meet the training standards and was never awarded a military occupational skill or assigned a unit outside of basic training.
A new video has emerged showing Fields, in the same car, being pulled over by cops in May. At the time he showed no aggression:
2. James Fields’ Mom Had Called 911 in the Past, Saying He Beat Her
911 transcripts show that Fields’ mom, Samantha Bloom, had called 911 twice in the past, saying that he beat her and threatened her with a knife, AP reported. Florence Police Department records said a call was made in 2011. She said her son was holding a 12-inch knife. An earlier call from 2010 showed Bloom saying the Fields had smacked her head and locked her in a bathroom. He did this because she told him to stop playing video games, she said in the call. She said in the call that he was taking medication to control his temper.
Derek Weimer, a high school teacher of Fields’, said that Fields was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been on anti-psychotic medication, Richmond.com reported.
After she learned about the crash, Bloom said that she only knew he was going to the rally but nothing else. You can see her interview with AP in the video above. The Toledo Blade talked with Bloom, as did AP. She said that Fields had texted her on Friday saying he dropped his cat off at her apartment and was going to an “alt-right” rally in Virginia.
She said she told her son: “I told him to be careful. [And] if they’re going to rally to make sure he’s doing it peacefully.” She said he didn’t say anything about the rally possibly being extremist and she had no idea he was involved when she returned home from dinner on Saturday night. She really didn’t know what the alt-right rally meant, only to think that it had “something” to do with Trump. “Trump’s not a white supremacist,” she said.
She told the Associated Press in the interview:
I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views. You know, we don’t, you know, I don’t really get too involved, I moved him out to his own apartment, so we — I’m watching his cat.”
He had only moved out of her apartment about five or six months ago, she said, after they moved to northwest Ohio from Kentucky for her job.
In August 2015, Bloom had updated her Facebook account to show a photo of her and her son, and wrote about how happy she was that he had just left for boot camp. Military records under Fields’ name indicated that he only lasted in boot camp a few months.
Meanwhile, an uncle, under the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post that Fields’ mom had raised Fields alone as a single mom after his dad died. She’s a paraplegic, his uncle said.
Fields’ father was killed by a drunk driver just a few months after he was born, an uncle told The Washington Post. His father left Fields money that his uncle had kept in a trust until Fields was 18.
When he turned 18, he demanded his money, and that was the last I had any contact with him.”
The uncle said Fields wasn’t very friendly and was mostly subdued.
I’m not going to slam my nephew or anybody in my family without knowing what the h— happened.”
Fields’ aunt, Pam Fields, agreed. She told The New York Times he was a “very quiet little boy,” and she’d only seen him about five times in the last 10 years.
A neighbor of Fields’ growing up told The New York Times that he was quiet and had some trouble making friends in school. The neighbor said that his mom was always trying to do the best for him. (Read more about Fields’ family in Heavy’s story here.)
The video below shows a press conference from the day of crash, with a statement from Gov. Terry McAuliffe:
On the same day that this occurred, a deadly helicopter crash also happened in Charlottesville, leaving two dead. The Virginia state police helicopter crashed just hours after the crowd was hit. This brought the death total for the day to three in Charlottesville. Read more about the helicopter crash in Heavy’s story below:
3. The Charlottesville Police Chief Said the Crash Was ‘Premeditated’
A Facebook photo of James Fields, Jr. is being widely circulated. His Facebook account has since been taken down:
In a press conference, the Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, said the crash was premeditated.
Witnesses referred to the crash as a “deliberate act of terrorism.” Others said the car appeared to deliberately mow down pedestrians.
Taylor Lorenz, a reporter for The Hill, said that every witness she interviewed at the police station believed the act was deliberate. She spoke with two officers who said it might not have been intentional, but she later clarified that those officer hadn’t been on the scene.
Earlier, Lorenz had said that an officer (who was not at the scene) had told her they thought he was scared and not malicious. She later took down the tweet, but here’s what it said:
Lorenz had taken a video of the crash, but her stream was cut off when someone punched her in the face, she said:
4. Some Officials Are Urging the Case Be Investigated as Domestic Terrorism, as News Develops that Fields Had Radical Views and a Fondness for Hitler
As more research is done into Fields, more evidence is emerging to indicate extremist views that he held. CNN reported that Derek Weimer, a social studies teacher at Randall K. Cooper High School, said Fields had radical beliefs when he taught him as a junior and senior in high school. Weimer told CNN:
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 or persecuted. He really bought into this white supremacist thing. He was very big into Nazism. He really had a fondness for Adolf Hitler.”
He built a rapport with Fields and was able to discuss sensitive topics without Fields’ getting angry. He said he tried to take every opportunity to distance Fields from those beliefs.
One of Fields’ former classmates, Keegan McGrath, told AP that Fields had said he went on a school trip to Germany because he wanted to “get to the Fatherland.” They were roommates on the trip in 2015. McGrath said he went home early, unable to handle rooming with Fields. Before that, Fields had been acting normally and never did anything unusual, McGrath said. But on the trip, Fields refused to visit France or interact with the French because he referred to the French as “being lower than us and inferior to us,” McGrath said. When McGrath challenged him, things grew heated between the two, he said. He added the Fields was never an outcast at school and had friends.
Some officials and politicians are urging that the case be investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted on the evening of the crash that the Department of Justice should “immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.”
Here’s his full statement:
Cruz’s statement came after President Donald Trump was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for speaking about violence on “many sides” rather than calling out the incident as domestic terrorism. (Read more about this in Heavy’s story here.)
The FBI has since announced that it’s opening a civil rights investigation into the car crash:
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement that the DOJ is fully supporting a federal investigation by the FBI.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had declared a state of emergency in the city because of violence that was breaking out between protesters and counter protesters. In fact, a group of white nationalists had just been dispersed shortly before the car rammed into the counter protesters who were carrying LBTQ flags and Black Lives Matters signs.
This disturbing photo below shows the moment the car hit the crowd:
Here’s another photo from the scene:
5. Fields Registered as a Republican in Ohio in 2016 and May Have Had a Controversial Facebook Account
The Daily Beast reported that Fields was a registered Republican, according to public records. He was registered to vote in Lucas County, Ohio and made his registration on January 23, 2016. He had been cited for expired license plates in May 2017.
The following is an unverified Snapchat screenshot that shows a man being arrested near a car that looks like the one from Charlottesville:
While Fields is being investigated, a Facebook accounted has started gaining a lot of attention. The name of the account is Conscious Ovis Aries, but its URL is Facebook.com/Jamies.Fields.9279. The page, however, has been taken down and we can only rely on archived pages to get a glimpse at what was on the Facebook profile. BuzzFeed and New York Daily News have reported on the page, believing it may belong to James Alex Fields, and BuzzFeed shared a number of photos from the page with detailed explanations here.
It’s important to point out that at this time, it is not confirmed whether this page belongs to James Fields. Heavy reached out to a few of James’ friends and family to see. The profile does link to some friends in Kentucky, which is where James Field was originally from, and it references him visiting a location in Ohio, where he later moved to.
Here are some of the photos from that Facebook page that have been gathering attention. You can see an archived version of the page here.
The page was archived in Russian, but it doesn’t appear that was its original language:
Some of his photos included a baby picture of Hitler and a Pepe the Frog, along with a photo standing in front of a car that is similar but not identical to the one from the crash.
Another photo from the page:
And more photos, once again, not archived in English:
And a couple other photos from the archives of the page:
Once again, it’s not known for certain if these pages belonged to the same Fields or not. However, at one point Fields’ mother was friends with Conscious Ovis Aries on Facebook, which lends more credence to the theory. To learn more about the Nazi references and white supremacy symbology on the page, see Heavy’s story here.
Meanwhile, New York Daily News reported that they photographed Fields on the front lines of the rally at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, part of the Vanguard America hate group.
Before the crash, some of the white nationalist protesters had already been dispersed. They had been removed by law enforcement officials earlier in the day, before the crash occurred. Some are now saying they will sue. (Note: It’s those who were protesting the statue’s removal who are threatening to sue, not the counter protesters.)
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is available.