International desk – A man has been arrested on suspicion and charged with murder after a car rammed into a group of people peacefully protesting against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing one person and injuring 19.
In a separate incident, two police officers were killed when their chopper crashed.
Police said, the fatal victim of the car ramming was a 32-year-old woman who was attempting to notify her family before releasing more details.
Col Martin Kumer, the superintendent of Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, told the press that 20-year-old James Fields of Ohio had been arrested following the attack.
“He has been charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death,” Kumer said in an email.
A Virginia police helicopter officials said was assisting with the rally crashed outside Charlottesville, killing the pilot and a trooper.
State police said in a statement the helicopter was “assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation” when it crashed in a wooded area. The pilot, Lieutenant H Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-pilot Berke Bates of Quinton, Virginia, died at the scene.
The deaths came at the end of a day marked by violent scuffles between far-right nationalists and people who had come to protest their occupation; a downtown park containing a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee.
Donald Trump condemned the “violence on many sides”, but faced criticism for failing to directly denounce the far-right demonstrators.
Witnesses said those hit by the car were peaceful people who came to protest the planned white supremacist rally and footage showed the vehicle crashed into another car, throwing people over the top of it.
Photographer Pat Jarrett, who was close by when the clash took place, told the media: “A gray Dodge Charger plowed into a sedan and then into a minivan. Bodies flew. People were terrified and screaming. Those closest to it said it was definitely a violent attack. The driver, who people later described as a skinny white guy with a straggly beard, reversed out of there and drove off, the front end of his car all smashed up.”
The Charltottesville mayor, Mike Signer, announced the death in a tweet: “I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will – go home.”
The governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, announced the death in a tweet by speaking at a press conference on Saturday evening, who had earlier declared a state of emergency, said he had a message to the white supremacists: “Go home… Shame on you. You pretend you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.”
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, President Trump, speaking from Bedminster, New Jersey, at a scheduled event for veterans’ healthcare, said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He further added that this has been “going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. A long, long time.”
In February, the city council came up with a decision to remove and sell the Robert E Lee statue that bears the legacy of white supremacy, and to rename the park as Emancipation Park. This was the culmination of a campaign to remove the statue started by a local high school student, Zyahna Bryant.