Charlottesville crash suspect denied bail in first court apperance

"He really had a fondness for Adolf Hitler," social studies teacher Derek Weimer said of suspect James Fields.

By Andrew V. Pestano

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- James Alex Fields, Jr. -- the suspect in the automobile killing of a protester opposing a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend -- was denied bail in his first court appearance on Monday.

Fields appeared in court via a video conference while detained at the local Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, dressed in a black and white prison jumpsuit. He did not make a plea in connection to the charges.


Fields did not speak much during his court appearance -- replying "No, sir" when Chief Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. asked him if he could afford a lawyer, and "Yes, sir" when asked if he understood what occurred during the court proceeding.

The court appearance comes after one of Fields' former teachers said Fields held extreme beliefs and sympathized with Nazi views.

Police say Fields' gray Dodge Challenger plowed into a crowd of protesters who were counter-demonstrating against the white nationalist rallies on Saturday. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, died from her injuries.


The car then reversed and hit additional pedestrians. Photos from the scene showed it sustained severe front end damage.

Authorities later arrested Fields, 20, of Maumee, Ohio, for the attack -- in which at least 19 others were injured.

Derek Weimer, a social studies teacher at the Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky -- where Fields and his mother lived prior to moving to Ohio -- said Fields held "outlandish, very radical beliefs."

"It was quite clear he had some really extreme views and maybe a little bit of anger behind them," Weimer said. "Feeling -- what's the word I'm looking for -- oppressed or persecuted, he really bought into this white supremacist thing.

"He was very big into Nazism. He really had a fondness for Adolf Hitler."

Weimer said he and other teachers attempted to separate Fields from "that garbage" but were unsuccessful.

"It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler," Weimer said. "He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff."

Samantha Bloom, Fields' mother, told the Toledo Blade she did not know her son was going to Virginia for the rally. Instead, she thought he was going to an event related to President Donald Trump.


"I told him to be careful," Bloom said. "[And] if they're going to rally to make sure he's doing it peacefully ... I thought it had something to do with Trump."

In addition to the 19 injured in the car-ramming attack, police said 15 others were wounded in other incidents associated with the Charlottesville protests.

Two state troopers -- pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, 41 -- died when their helicopter crashed near the north-central Virginia college town after monitoring the incidents Saturday.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI said they would launch investigations into the deadly demonstrations.

Sunday, the White House attempted to clarify initial remarks Trump made on the Charlottesville violence -- amid criticism that he didn't expressly renounce the white supremacy gathering.

"The president said very strongly in his statement [Saturday] that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred," the White House said. "Of course, that includes white supremacists, [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together."

Saturday, both the president and first lady Melania Trump condemned the violence and hatred. Sunday, the White House denounced "white supremacists" and "all extremist groups."


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