CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- U.S. officials have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly car attack that took place amid clashes of white nationalists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The investigation was announced late Saturday by officials of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.
Sessions says, “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice.”
He adds, “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were wounded when the car plowed into the counter-protesters Saturday.
Fields' mother said they recently relocated to the Toledo, Ohio area from Northern Kentucky. One of his high school teachers said Fields had radicalized views on race and was "infatuated" with Nazis and Adolf Hitler.