Driver in custody after car rams into crowd following Virginia white nationalist rally

Twitter/@brennanmgilmore(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The driver of a car that plowed into a crowd of demonstrators in the midst of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday was arrested after the crash left a 32-year-old woman dead and 19 others injured, police said.

White nationalist and other attendees clashed with those who arrived to oppose the demonstration, which began with a torch-wielding group marching through the city Friday evening and was intended to culminate in an event entitled “Unite the Right,” set to begin at noon on Saturday.

However, the event was shut down by authorities in the early afternoon. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city and police ordered the crowds to disperse.

Video taken in the afternoon after the demonstration was shut down shows crowds walking along a downtown Charlottesville street as several cars move slowly along the same avenue. Abruptly, a gray Dodge Challenger rams into the back of another vehicle, slamming one or more cars ahead of it amid the crowd of protesters. The driver then rapidly reverses away from the scene.

Warning: The video contains graphic images.

It was not immediately clear whether the male driver of the vehicle acted intentionally, but Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said at a Saturday evening press conference that charges were pending and the situation was being treated “as a criminal homicide.”

McAuliffe and Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones each made reference to “three fatalities” during the press conference, but did not elaborate about the additional two beyond the automobile incident. Virginia State Police confirmed two fatalities as a result of a helicopter crash southwest of Charlottesville Saturday but it was not immediately clear whether these were the fatalities being referenced by McAuliffe and Jones.

The University of Virginia Health System confirmed that 20 patients were brought to UVA Medical Center and that 19 were being “assessed and treated” in addition to the single death.

Thomas identified the victim only as a 32-year-old woman, and saying her name would not be released until her next of kin were notified.

Charlottesville has become a flashpoint for white nationalists following a City Council vote in February to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park formerly called Lee Park.

The park was renamed Emancipation Park in June.

President Donald Trump addressed the situation during remarks Saturday afternoon. He did not specifically address that a death had occurred amid the demonstrations, but denounced the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

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