Shortly before the attack Saturday, fistfights and screaming matches erupted between counterprotesters and white nationalists protesting the removal of a confederate monument. The clashes led to the cancellation of scheduled protests, sending demonstrators from both sides marching on nearby streets. A few hours later, a car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters.
Trooper Berke M.M. Bates (left) and Lt. H. Jay Cullen (right)
James Alex Fields Jr.
Federal authorities launched a civil rights investigation hours after the incident.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said US Attorney Rick Mountcastle is leading the investigation.
"The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated," Sessions said in a statement. "Justice will prevail."