The Latest: Victim’s friend calls her death an act of terror

Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – The Latest on incidents related to violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left three dead (all times local)

8:30 p.m.

A close friend of the woman who was killed when a car plowed into peaceful protesters in Charlottesville says she cared about people and stood up for equality.

Marissa Blair said Sunday night at a vigil where the crash happened that Heather Heyer’s death was “an act of terror.” She says it’s a hate crime and should be treated as such.

Blair says she was with Heyer when the crash happened. She says the driver “barreled down,” and she could hear the wheels as he accelerated. She says the driver “deserves everything he gets and more.”

Twenty-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. is charged with second-degree murder and other counts in the car crash. He could also face federal charges, depending on the outcome of an FBI investigation.

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7:25 p.m.

A Nevada college student who was photographed marching in Virginia before a deadly white supremacist rally says he’s not an “angry racist.”

KTVN-TV interviewed 20-year-old Peter Cvjetanovic after he was identified online in a photo showing white nationalists marching through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches Friday.

On Saturday, a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters as tensions turned violent at a related rally.

Cvjetanovic says he didn’t expect the photo to spread but that he’s a white nationalist who cares for all people and wants to “preserve what we have.”

Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, after a recent photo of the two reportedly surfaced, condemned the events and said he didn’t know Cvjetanovic.

The University of Nevada, Reno, also denounced the movement as corrosive to society.

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6:15 p.m.

A former teacher of the man accused of plowing his car into counter protesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia says the suspect had a keen interest in military history, Hitler and Nazi, Germany.

Derek Weimer on Sunday said that he taught social studies to 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. during his junior and senior years in Kentucky, calling him an average student.

Weimer recalled that school officials had singled out Fields in 9th grade for his political beliefs and that he had made comments that alerted his social studies teacher at the time to “deeply-held, radical” convictions on race and Nazism.

Weimer said Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall was particularly appealing to Fields, Weimer said.

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3:55 p.m.

A Charlottesville hospital says many of the patients injured after a car drove into a crowd of protesters at a white nationalist rally are improving.

A spokeswoman for the University of Virginia Health System said in a statement Sunday afternoon that nine of the patients the hospital treated have been released. Ten others are in good condition.

A day earlier, the hospital said five patients were in critical condition, four were in serious condition, six were in fair condition and four were in good condition.

The statement also says the hospital treated additional patients related to Saturday’s events but that the hospital can’t give an exact number.

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3:35 p.m.

Virginia State Police say the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are assisting in the investigation into a fatal helicopter crash that claimed the lives of two state troopers.

The helicopter crashed shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday in a wooded area while assisting in law enforcement activities related to the clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville.

The pilot, 48-year-old Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, and 40-year-old Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, died at the scene.

White nationalists were in Charlottesville on Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

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2:40 p.m.

The man who organized a rally in Charlottesville that sparked violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters tried to hold a news conference a day after the deadly event, but a crowd of several hundred booed him and forced him away from the lectern.

Jason Kessler is a blogger based in Charlottesville, and as he came out to speak Sunday afternoon near City Hall, he was surrounded by cameras and people. Some people chanted and made noises with drums and other instruments. Among the chants: “You’re wearing the wrong hood,” a reference to the Ku Klux Klan.

Kessler mimicked looking at his watch and indicated he’d wait to speak.

A few people approached, crossing the line of TV cameras.

One man pushed Kessler. A woman tackled him.

Kessler asked officers on the scene for help. Eventually they escorted him off. No arrests were reported.

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12:55 p.m.

A friend of the woman killed when a car rammed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville says she’s no different than a casualty of war.

Felicia Correa said Sunday that her friend Heather Heyer died standing up for people of color.

Correa says Heyer and other counter protesters put their lives on the line to confront hateful bigotry. She says she doesn’t see the difference between Heyer or someone who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. She says the vehicle that plowed into a group of peaceful protesters was a terrorist attack as well.

Correa says she grew up with Heyer, who was 32. She says she was a sweet person. She has set up a fund to raise money for Heyer’s family.

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12:30 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is calling on President Donald Trump to more strongly condemn the bigotry and violence that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend.

Democrat McAuliffe told reporters at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville on Sunday that angry political rhetoric needs to stop.

He says the Republican president “needs to come out stronger” against the actions of white supremacists. The governor says “they are Nazis and they are here to hurt American citizens, and he needs to call them out for what they are, no question.”

McAuliffe spoke to Trump on Saturday about the violence in downtown Charlottesville. He says “twice I said to him we have to stop this hateful speech, this rhetoric.”

The governor says protesters were “emboldened to walk around our streets with weapons and to spew hatred.”

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12:05 p.m.

The man accused of ramming a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville was photographed that morning holding a shield with the emblem of a white supremacist group.

Vanguard America denies that James Alex Fields Jr. is a member of its group and says it handed out shields to anyone in attendance who wanted them. The Anti-Defamation League says Vanguard America believes the U.S. is an exclusively white nation, and uses propaganda to recruit young white men online and on college campuses. Vanguard America confirmed via Twitter account that members were in Charlottesville on Saturday morning, part of what’s believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade, to rally against plans to remove a Confederate statue. Hundreds of others came to protest against the racism.

In the photo, taken by the New York Daily News , Fields stands with a handful of men, all dressed similarly in the usual Vanguard America uniform of khakis and white polo shirts. The men hold white shields with a black-and-white logo of two axes. The Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee is in the background. The Daily News says the photo was taken about 10:30 a.m. Charlottesville officials say the car crashed into the crowd, killing one, at 1:42 p.m.

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10:15 a.m.

Federal law enforcement authorities have started a civil rights investigation into a deadly car crash in Charlottesville that left one protester dead and several others injured.

The FBI said in a statement late Saturday that it is collecting facts and evidence in an ongoing investigation.

Heather Heyer died when a car rammed into a group of people who were protesting the presence of white supremacists who had gathered in the city for a rally.

The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with second-degree murder and other counts. He could also face federal charges, depending on the outcome of the FBI’s investigation.

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9:30 a.m.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called the killing of a 32-year-old woman and the injury of others by a vehicle at a rally in the city a “terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon.”

He made the comments in an interview Sunday with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Heather Heyer died when a car rammed into a group of people who were protesting the presence of white supremacists who had gathered in the city for a rally.

The car’s driver, James Alex Fields Jr. was charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

The rally’s purpose was to condemn a decision by the city to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

 

7:23 a.m.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will visit two Charlottesville churches and speak to congregants following violent clashes in the city between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters that left three dead. The governor’s office says in a release that Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will join McAuliffe at both Sunday services. McAuliffe and Northam are scheduled to visit Mount Zion First African Baptist Church and Visit First Baptist Church. Three were killed and dozens were injured amid what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade to protest the city’s decision to remove a Confederate monument. A car rammed into a crowd of protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods, leaving two troopers onboard dead. President Donald Trump criticized the violence and called for a return to law and order. But his critics say his racially-tinged rhetoric has exacerbated the nation’s political tensions and emboldened racists.

2:21 a.m.

The mayor of Charlottesville blamed the nation’s intensifying political divisions for the violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters that left three dead. Mayor Michael Signer on Saturday bemoaned the “very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics.” Three were killed and dozens were injured amid what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade to protest the city’s decision to remove a Confederate monument. A car rammed into a crowd of protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods, leaving two troopers onboard dead. President Donald Trump criticized the violence and called for a return to law and order. But his critics say his racially-tinged rhetoric has exacerbated the nation’s political tensions and emboldened racists.

11:54 p.m.

Three more men have been arrested in connection to the violent clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville.

The Virginia State Police announced late Saturday that Troy Dunigan, a 21-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, a 21-year-old from Louisa, Virginia, was charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

Three people died during the violent day in Charlottesville.

A 32-year-old woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters. The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old from Ohio, was charged with second-degree murder.

Two state police troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed in the woods on the outskirts of town.

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11:10 p.m.

U.S. officials have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly car attack that took place amid clashes of white nationalists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The investigation was announced late Saturday by officials of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI.

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.

Sessions says, “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice.”

He adds, “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

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11 p.m.

A white nationalist blames police for the violence that erupted before and after a rally where he was scheduled to speak before it turned deadly.

Richard Spencer told The Associated Press on Saturday that he doesn’t take responsibility for the violence and accused state and local police of endangering lives in how they handled the rally.

Spencer said that he “did not attempt to engage in any kind of violence. So the idea that I could be held responsible is absurd. It’s like blaming the fire department for a fire.”

He said that he was pepper-sprayed twice during the day.

Spencer said he recommended that people should disperse after the state of emergency was declared.

Spencer also said he found President Donald Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville violence to be “rather vague and kind of lame.”

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10:25 p.m.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of the man accused of driving his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters says he told her he was going to the rally.

Samantha Bloom, of Ohio, confirmed details about her son’s car and his trip to Virginia, saying she received a text from him last week that said he’d gotten some time off from work and was going to a rally.

She said her son hadn’t given her any details about the rally but that she told him “to be careful” and to peaceful.

Bloom became visibly upset as she learned that dozens of people were injured during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Bloom said she and Fields had just relocated to the Toledo area from Florence, Kentucky, a Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb

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9:40 p.m.

Authorities say a 20-year-old Ohio man accused of driving a car into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

The Charlottesville Police Department said in a statement Saturday night that James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio also faces three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene.

Col. Martin Kumer, superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, said Fields was in custody there Saturday night. Kumer says he doesn’t believe Fields has obtained an attorney yet.

He says a bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

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8:45 p.m.

Virginia state police said one of their agency’s helicopters crashed Saturday outside Charlottesville, killing two troopers.

Police said the helicopter was assisting law enforcement officers monitoring the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Police said Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton were killed in the crash.

The crash happened just a few hours after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting against the white nationalist rally. One person was killed and at least two dozen were hurt.

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This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates’ first name. It had been spelled Burke.

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6:35 p.m.

Officials say the deaths of two people in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville, Virginia, have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day.

It was not immediately clear how the crash was connected to the rally. Corinne Geller, a Virignia State Police spokeswoman, says the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash Saturday afternoon.

The crash happened just a few hours after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting against the white nationalist rally. One person was killed and at least two dozen were hurt.

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5:20 p.m.

The organizer of a rally that drew hundreds of white nationalists and other extremists to Charlottesville says he disavows the violence that eroded it.

Jason Kessler said in an interview Saturday evening that whoever drove a car into a group of counter-protesters “did the wrong thing.” He said he was saddened that people were hurt.

Kessler is a local blogger and activist who described the event as a pro-white rally. He planned it to protest the city’s decision to remove a Confederate monument.

He also criticized law enforcement’s response to the event, which was dispersed before speakers could take the stage.

He said they did a poor job controlling the chaos to allow free speech.

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4:15 p.m.

A state official said the driver of a car that plowed into a group of marchers in Charlottesville is in police custody.

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said the driver, a man, has been arrested.

Moran did not immediately provide a name of the driver.

Witnesses say a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting a rally, which was held by white nationalists who oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by the city of Charlottesville. Officials say one person was killed and at least 26 were treated at local hospitals.

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3:45 p.m.

A hospital official says one person has died and 19 were injured after a car plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville.

University of Virginia Medical Center spokeswoman Angela Taylor confirmed the death to The Associated Press.

The mayor of Charlottesville said via Twitter on Saturday that he is “heartbroken” to announce that a “life has been lost.” He did not provide details.

Witnesses say a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting the rally, which was held by white nationalists who oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by the city of Charlottesville.

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3:20 p.m.

Officials say there are multiple injuries after a car plowed into a group of people marching peacefully in downtown Charlottesville.

Video of the incident shows a silver Dodge Charger crashing into a car where protesters were marching and then rapidly reversing away.

Michael Nigro, a photojournalist from Brooklyn, told reporters shortly after the incident he heard the screech of tires and saw a gray Charger accelerate toward the group. Several hundred people were peacefully marching through downtown.

Nigro says it was “chaos and mayhem” as bodies flew.

Officials didn’t immediately release any further information and it wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was in custody.

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2 p.m.

Authorities are on the scene after a vehicle plowed into a group of people marching peacefully through downtown Charlottesville.

An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident. It occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters.

The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.

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1:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is tweeting about the violence that has erupted amid a white supremacist march in Virginia.

Trump tweeted Saturday that “we ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He then wrote “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

The demonstrations began Friday in Charlottesville with white nationalists marching through town and while carrying lit torches. The demonstrators then clashed with counter-protesters.

Some of the white nationalists cited Trump’s victory as validation for their beliefs.

The White House was silent for hours about the clashes except for a solitary tweet from First Lady Melania Trump. The president has received previous criticism for being slow to condemn acts of hate done in his name.

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1:35 p.m.

The organizer of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville is encouraging attendees to leave town after authorities declared an unlawful assembly and police ordered people to disperse.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler organized Saturday’s rally to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Kessler told The Associated Press Saturday that he and other people who were going to speak at the event evacuated with security when police issued the order to disperse.

He says he wants rally attendees to leave town peacefully.

Richard Spencer is a prominent alt-right activist who was scheduled to speak. He says he’s also encouraging people to go home.

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12:50 p.m.

First Lady Melania Trump is calling for peace after violent clashes broke out at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Trump said Saturday on Twitter: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence.”

Hundreds of white nationalists and counter protestors faced off Saturday in downtown Charlottesville, with several violent clashes erupting.

It’s the latest confrontation in the city since it voted to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.

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12:35 p.m.

The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings released a statement denouncing the use of their logo at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and saying they are considering legal action to stop it.

The team says it “vehemently” disagrees with and is not associated with the event. The Red Wings add they are “exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration.”

A Michigan-based white nationalist group called the Detroit Right Wings uses the Red Wings’ logo. The organization posted on its Twitter account that members had arrived in Charlottesville.

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12:25 p.m.

Virginia’s governor has declared a state of emergency in response to a white nationalist rally that is expected to draw up to 6,000 people.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said via his Twitter account on Saturday morning that the declaration was made in order “to aid state response to violence” at the rally in Charlottesville, about 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

It’s the latest confrontation in the city since it voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.

The city’s manager also declared a local emergency and police ordered people to disperse from the area around the statue after several violent clashes broke out.

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Hundreds of people are facing off in Charlottesville ahead of a white nationalist rally planned in the Virginia city’s downtown.

Rally supporters and counter-protesters screamed, chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday morning.

Men dressed in militia uniforms were carrying shields and openly carrying long guns.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler planned what he called a “pro-white” rally to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park. Thousands of people are expected to pack the area.

There were also fights Friday night, when hundreds of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches.

A university spokesman said one person was arrested and several people were injured.