Officials ID 32-Year-Old Woman Killed When Car Rammed Into Crowd in Charlottesville

The 32-year old woman killed in Charlottesville on Saturday has been identified as Heather Heyer, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Sunday.

Heather Heyer is seen in an image uploaded to her Facebook page in April 2014.

Heather Heyer is seen in an image uploaded to her Facebook page in April 2014.

Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a crowd following a dispersed gathering of white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville.

Felicia Correa, who has known Heyer since childhood, told the Washington Post she had always been the type of person to stand up for others, recalling how she spoke up in defense of people being bullied while riding the school bus.

“She died for a reason. I don’t see any difference in her or a soldier who died in war. She, in a sense, died for her country,” Correa told the Post. “She was there standing up for what was right. I just want to make sure that it wasn’t in vain.”

Shortly before the attack Saturday, fistfights and screaming matches erupted between counterprotesters and white nationalists protesting the removal of a confederate monument. The clashes led to the cancellation of scheduled protests, sending demonstrators from both sides marching on nearby streets. A few hours later, a car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters.

Here’s what we know:

Krystin Rines, center, rests her head on her husband Tyler Rines' shoulder during a vigil for those who were injured and died when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators marching on Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Krystin Rines, center, rests her head on her husband Tyler Rines’ shoulder during a vigil for those who were injured and died when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators marching on Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

What happened?

  • Counterprotesters met white nationalists and other right-wing groups at the site of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” event hours before the rally was set to start.
  • Clashes broke out and police began to disperse crowds.
  • Local officials declared the rally an “unlawful assembly” and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.
  • About two hours later, a gray Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters walking down a street in downtown Charlottesville.
  • The driver slammed the car in reverse at high speed and left the site of the crash. He was arrested later that afternoon.

Virginia State Police Lt. H. Jay Cullen, left, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates are seen in photos released by the Virginia State Police on Aug. 12, 2017.

The victims

  • Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in the car-ramming incident, police said.
  • A total of 19 others were also hurt, including five people still in critical condition Sunday, a spokeswoman for the University of Virginia Medical Center said.
  • Two Virginia State Patrol troopers died when a helicopter crashed in a wooded area near Charlottesville after monitoring Saturday’s events. The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday, were killed. Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
  • City officials say at least 15 others were wounded in events associated with the scheduled rally.
James Alex Fields Jr. is seen in a photo released by the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail on Aug. 12, 2017.

James Alex Fields Jr. is seen in a photo released by the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail on Aug. 12, 2017.

The suspect

  • The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, is being held at a Virginia jail on suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death, said Superintendent Martin Kumer with the Albermarle-Charlottesville County Regional Jail.
  • Fields was photographed on Saturday by a New York Daily News photographer carrying a shield with the insignia of white supremacist group Vanguard America. The hate group believes the U.S. is an exclusively white nation and is focused on using internet-circulated propaganda and college campus visits to recruit young men, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
  • Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, told CNN affiliate Toledo Blade, her son told her last week he was going to an “alt-right” rally, but she was not involved in his political views. CNN’s attempts to reach Bloom were unsuccessful.
  • Three other men were arrested Saturday. One of them faces a charge of carrying a concealed handgun and the other is charged disorderly conduct. The third man, originally from Virginia, was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery.

The investigation

  • The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have launched a civil rights investigation into the deadly crash.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions said US Attorney Rick Mountcastle is leading the investigation.
  • “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated,” Sessions said in a statement. “Justice will prevail.”

A young woman sits near a makeshift candlelight vigil for those who died and were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-fascist counter-demonstrators marching near a downtown shopping area Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

The blame

  • President Donald Trump denounced what he called an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
  • Critics quickly lambasted the President for drawing what they called a false equivalency. Many people, both Democrats and Republicans, also criticized the President for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists.
  • “We need to call it out for what it is,” Gov. McAuliffe said Sunday. “To the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis that came to our beautiful state yesterday, there is no place for you here in Charlottesville. There is no place for you in Virginia. And there is no place for you in the United States of America.”
  • But the organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally, Jason Kessler, issued a statement blaming the violence on law enforcement and local officials. “The blame for today’s (Saturday’s) violence lies primarily with Charlottesville government officials and the police officers who failed to maintain law and order, protect the First Amendment rights of rally participants, and provide for their safety,” Kessler said.