One Killed, 19 Hurt After Car Strikes Crowd in Charlottesville

One person was killed and nineteen others were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a car plowed through a group of counter-protesters who were demonstrating against an alt-right and white nationalist rally.

Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said a 32-year-old woman was killed and the suspect vehicle which fled was found moments later and a male driver was arrested.

"We are currently treating this as a criminal homicide investigation," Thomas said at a press conference. "The premediated violence that our community experienced today was completely unacceptable," he said.

Two Virginia State Police troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash seven miles south of the city at around 5 p.m., the FAA and a senior law enforcement official briefed on the matter said. Circumstances of the crash are not clear and the incident is under investigation, state police said.

The University of Virginia Health System said it was treating 19 patients from the car crash — five are in critical condition, four are in serious condition, six are fair and four are in good condition.

Described as a group of "anti-racist protesters" by a witness who took video of the crash, the group of marchers was packed close together at the end of a street near the intersection of Fourth and Water streets in downtown Charlottesville when the car struck.

Brennan Gilmore, a 37-year-old who works for a start up, shot the footage and said he heard tires squealing before he saw a gray Dodge Charger build up speed and ram the crowd. It hit a number of people before plowing into the bumper of another car.

Related: Charlottesville White Nationalist Rally Violence Prompts State of Emergency

"It was very clearly intentional," Gilmore told On Events. "From the far end of the street it accelerated, slowed down right before the crowd and then slammed on the gas through the crowd sending bodies flying. And then it reversed back into the street dragging bodies and clothes."

The car then backed up and fled the scene.

Thirty-five people overall were treated for injuries by city personnel, Thomas said, and 14 of those were hurt in "individual engagements" as violence flared amid the white nationalist rally and counter-protests. No injuries were reported from interactions with police, he said.

Ahead of the rally that was planned for noon, different groups of protesters clashed with hundreds of white nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis throughout the day. They began to disperse after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police told attendees to depart.

"I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today: Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth," McAuliffe said at a press conference Saturday.

"Shame on you," he said. "You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot."

Image: A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017.

A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017. Ryan M. Kelly / AP

President Donald Trump called the series of events terrible, but was criticized for not providing a full-throated condemnation of the white nationalist elements of the protests, which included former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence on many sides," the president said during a Saturday press conference. "On many sides."

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When asked to clarify what the president meant by "many sides," a White House official said Trump "was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today."

Trump did not respond when reporters asked whether the Charlottesville car crash was terrorism or if he denounced white nationalism.

McAuliffe did not mince words during an evening press conference that was a clear rejection of "the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today." He simply told them to "go home."

"You came here today to hurt people, and you did hurt people," McAuliffe said, addressing what he called white . "My message is clear: we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America."

The most recent incident came after torch-wielding white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus on Friday night. Friday and Saturday's alt-right rallies were held to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

NBC News

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