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1 killed after car plows into protesters in Charlottesville

Last Updated Aug 12, 2017 5:31 PM EDT

One person was killed and 19 others were injured Saturday when a car plowed into a group of protesters in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, hours after police broke up violent confrontations ahead of a scheduled rally of white nationalists.

A male suspect police say was the driver is in custody, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran tells CBS News, adding that Charlottesville police will keep investigating before formal charges are made.

Video of the incident showed a grey Dodge Charger plowing into counter-protesters who were marching through the city’s shopping district. The force of the collision hurled several people into the air. Bystanders could be seen running in every direction while others stood by screaming for help.

Footage from another angle showed the car speeding in reverse in an attempt to flee the scene.


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

Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP

Those injured in the crash were transported to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center, a hospital spokesperson told CBS News.

A dozen medics were seen carting the injured back and forth on stretchers at the scene.

“I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will — go home,” Charlottesville Mayor Mike Singer said on Twitter.

White nationalists clashed with police and counter-protesters hours before the collision in Charlottesville. Alt-right activists and white supremacists planned to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the city’s Emancipation Park, but police broke up the demonstration before it began after fighting broke out.

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First responders tend to several people injured when a car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

President Trump condemned the violence in remarks Saturday afternoon.

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides,” he said from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Mr. Trump said he spoke with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe over the phone and agreed “that the hate and division must stop and it must stop right now.”

He added, “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order, and the protection of innocent lives.”

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The car that allegedly plowed through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Win McNamee/Getty

McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city Saturday to aid the state’s response to the violence. 

“It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

“I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours,” McAuliffe said, adding that state troopers and the Virginia National Guard were providing support to local authorities.

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A car plows into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.

Ryan M. Kelly, The Daily Progress

Jason Kessler, the organizer behind the “Unite the Right” rally, said he plans to sue the city for violating a court order permitting the rally to be held in the park.

“Our First Amendment rights were violated today,” Kessler said by phone before the car crash. He said the city of Charlottesville and McAuliffe violated the court ruling because they “didn’t like the outcome.”

Some protesters who came for the “Unite the Right” rally were armed and dressed in military-like clothing, while others wore shirts with Nazi symbols and quotes from Adolf Hitler. Another read “diversity is just a genocidal scam.”

Saturday’s confrontation came after a large group of torch-bearing white nationalists marched through the UVA campus Friday night, after a judge issued a ruling allowing Saturday’s protest to move forward.

UVA cancelled all scheduled events planned for Saturday citing “ongoing public safety concerns,” but announced that the college’s medical center would remain open.

“The University is monitoring the developments in Charlottesville and continues to coordinate with state and local law enforcement,” the school said in a statement.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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