James Alex Fields Jr.: Charlottesville suspect was in the Army, spokesperson says

Posted at 8:14 PM, Aug 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-13 20:30:00-04

The man accused of ramming his car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist protest Saturday in Charlottesville attended a portion of basic training in the Army, an Army spokesperson said on Sunday. 

In a statement released to WCPO, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson said James Alex Fields Jr. reported for basic training in 2015, but he was released from active duty later that year for "failure to meet training standards." 

Read Johnson's full statement below. 

"The Army can confirm that James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015.  He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015. As a result he was never awarded a military occupational skill nor was he assigned to a unit outside of basic training." 

A 32-year-old woman was killed in the car-ramming incident Saturday, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said.
A total of 19 others were also hurt, including five people still in critical condition Saturday, 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.

Derek Weimer, who taught two history courses to Fields at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky, said he was a quiet, respectful student but had some "radical ideas on race."

"He was very infatuated with the Nazis, with Adolf Hitler. He also had a huge military history, especially with German military history and World War II. But, he was pretty infatuated with that stuff." 

Weimer said Fields wanted to join the Army but wasn't allowed to enlist because of his mental health history.

Fields is charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. Charlottesville police said he rammed his Dodge sports car into a sedan, which then hit a minivan.