Aug. 14 (UPI) — James Alex Fields, Jr. — the suspect in the automobile killing of a protester opposing a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend — held extreme beliefs and sympathized with Nazi views, a former teacher said.
Police say Fields’ gray Dodge Challenger plowed into a crowd of protesters who were counter-demonstrating against the white nationalist rallies on Saturday. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, died from her injuries.
The car then reversed and hit additional pedestrians. Photos from the scene showed it sustained severe front end damage.
Authorities later arrested Fields, 20, of Maumee, Ohio, for the attack — in which at least 19 others were injured.
Derek Weimer, a social studies teacher at the Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky — where Fields and his mother lived prior to moving to Ohio — said Fields held “outlandish, very radical beliefs.”
“It was quite clear he had some really extreme views and maybe a little bit of anger behind them,” Weimer said. “Feeling — what’s the word I’m looking for — oppressed or persecuted, he really bought into this white supremacist thing.
“He was very big into Nazism. He really had a fondness for Adolf Hitler.”
Weimer said he and other teachers attempted to separate Fields from “that garbage” but were unsuccessful.
“It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,” Weimer said. “He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.”
Fields is set to appear in court Monday.
“I told him to be careful,” Bloom said. “[And] if they’re going to rally to make sure he’s doing it peacefully … I thought it had something to do with Trump.”
In addition to the 19 injured in the car-ramming attack, police said 15 others were wounded in other incidents associated with the Charlottesville protests.
Two state troopers — pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, 41 — died when their helicopter crashed near the north-central Virginia college town after monitoring the incidents Saturday.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI said they would launch investigations into the deadly demonstrations.
Sunday, the White House attempted to clarify initial remarks Trump made on the Charlottesville violence — amid criticism that he didn’t expressly renounce the white supremacy gathering.
“The president said very strongly in his statement [Saturday] that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the White House said. “Of course, that includes white supremacists, [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”