Charlottesville, Va. police are treating the death of a 32-year-old woman as a criminal homicide following a three-vehicle crashed caused by a man driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters following a white supremacist rally Saturday.
Charlottesville police Chief Al Thomas told reporters the woman's name would not be released until her family had been notified of her death. The woman was killed by her injuries sustained in a crash just before 1:45 p.m. Saturday in downtown Charlottesville.
The woman was among a group of leftist protesters who were milling about city streets in the city following the dispersal of a white supremacist rally scheduled to take place earlier in the day. Many of the counter-protesters were cheering the end of the white supremacist rally when a man drove his car at a high rate of speed into a crowd of people.
The vehicle collided with a vehicle that was stopped among the crowd and sent that vehicle forward into another vehicle. The collision sent people flying through the air and the severity of injuries ranged from minor to life-threatening, Thomas said.
The incident is being treated as intentional, he said.
"We are currently treating this as a criminal homicide investigation," Thomas told reporters.
Thomas said none of the injuries were caused by clashes between police and civilians. Fourteen people were injured in fights amongst white supremacist and leftist protesters.
Two people were killed following the protests when a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed near Charlottesville. The helicopter had been flying above the city monitoring the protests during the day.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had harsh words for the white supremacists who came to the town, many of whom were not from Charlottesville.
He said the state and local authorities have been begging people not to come to the rally for weeks, but were unsuccessful.
"Our message was plain and simple — go home," McAuliffe said. "You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretended you're patriots, but you are anything but a patriot."
He added, "You came here to hurt people and you did hurt people. My message is clear — we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger."
City Manager Maurice Jones put the blame for the deaths at the feet of the people who came to violently protest.
"Unfortunately, as we went through the day, we had folks who came here to cause mayhem and chaos and mischief, and it resulted in three fatalities here in the city of Charlottesville," he said.