Charlottesville police chief: 'Absolutely I have regrets'

Posted at 4:27 PM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 17:57:50-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas told a news conference Monday that a hotline was being set up to enable people to report assaults and other criminal activity that may have occurred at Saturday’s rally.

He also said “alt-right” rally attendees had failed to follow an agreed-upon plan on entering Emancipation Park. The "alt-right" is an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. Attendees were gathering to protest plans to remove a Confederate statue.

The event also drew counter-protesters -- and Thomas said the crowds became more aggressive and “mutually engaged combatants” became more violent.

When asked whether he had any regrets, he said: “Absolutely I have regrets. We lost three lives this weekend.”

He was referring to 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died after a car police say was driven by James Alex Fields Jr. rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, along with many federal officials, deemed it an act of domestic terrorism. Federal officials also have opened a civil rights investigation.

Two Virginia State Police officers died when their helicopter, which was dispatched to the area, crashed just outside the city.