Federal investigators are digging deep into James Alex Fields, the man accused of purposefully driving his vehicle into counter-protesters over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, to see if there are any connections that might determine if this was a planned attack.
The city of Charlottesville was rocked by violence as protests being led by what many in the media are calling “white nationalists” turned ugly.
According to Fox News, the DOJ has opened a federal civil rights hate crime investigation into Saturday’s crash, which killed one person and injured 19 others.
“The investigation is not limited to the driver. We will investigate whether others may have been involved in planning the attack,” the official said, adding that domestic terrorism charges are possible as well.
DOJ officials say domestic terrorism includes criminal acts that are dangerous to human life and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population. “Motive often is not clear, but we have enough evidence to be suspicious that the suspect intended to send a message and not just harm immediate victims,” the DOJ official said, adding that “scores” of federal officials have been helping local law enforcement.
The crash is being investigated jointly by the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, Fox News is told.
A former teacher of the suspect said Fields had a keen interest in military history, Hitler and Nazi Germany. Derek Weimer recalled that school officials in Kentucky had singled out Fields in 9th grade for his political beliefs and that he had made comments that alerted his social studies teacher at the time to “deeply-held, radical” convictions on race and Nazism.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke out about the violence late Saturday stating that it “strikes 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.”
This weekend was truly a sad display of humanity, as radicals on both sides of the political spectrum showed up with the full intent of destroying each other and by extension, our country.
At a time when our nation is already so deeply divided, one can only hope the damage here isn’t irreparable.