Man accused of driving car into crowd 'a Nazi sympathiser'

James Alex Fields Jr (far left) attending the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park in Virginia last Saturday, before he drove a car into a crowd later that day, killing one person and injuring 19 others.
James Alex Fields Jr (far left) attending the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park in Virginia last Saturday, before he drove a car into a crowd later that day, killing one person and injuring 19 others.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHARLOTTESVILLE (Virginia) • A man accused of ploughing a car into a crowd of activists - killing one person and injuring 19 - long sympathised with Nazi views and had stood with a group of white supremacists hours before last Saturday's bloody crash.

The alleged driver, James Alex Fields Jr, a 20-year-old who travelled to Virginia from Ohio, had espoused extremist ideals at least since high school, according to Mr Derek Weimer, a history teacher.

"It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler," Mr Weimer said. "He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff."

Fields has been accused of killing Ms Heather Heyer, 32, after he drove a car into a counter-rally against bigotry and hatred.

Fields, now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, was arrested shortly after and charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and another count related to the hit- and-run, police said.

He is being held without bail, and was scheduled for an arraignment yesterday.

Fields last lived in Maumee, Ohio, records show. Both family and acquaintances described him as quiet and, often, solitary.

His father was killed by a drunk driver five months before the boy's birth, according to an uncle who spoke to the media on condition of anonymity. Fields, he said, grew up mostly in northern Kentucky, where he was raised by his paraplegic single mother, Ms Samantha Bloom.

Fields joined the army in 2015, but remained on active duty for less than four months. It is unclear why he served so briefly.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Man accused of driving car into crowd 'a Nazi sympathiser''. Print Edition | Subscribe