VA car ramming suspect identified, US officials open civil rights probe

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) —Authorities say a 20-year-old Ohio man accused of driving a car into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

The Charlottesville Police Department said in a statement Saturday night that James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio also faces three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene.

Col. Martin Kumer, superintendent of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, said Fields was in custody there Saturday night. Kumer says he doesn’t believe Fields has obtained an attorney yet.

He says a bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Related: Update: 3 arrested in connection to violence in Charlottesville

A woman who identified herself as Fields’ mother says he told her he was going to the rally.

Samantha Bloom, of Ohio, confirmed details about her son’s car and his trip to Virginia, saying she received a text from him last week that said he’d gotten some time off from work and was going to a rally.

She said her son hadn’t given her any details about the rally but that she told him “to be careful” and to peaceful.

Bloom became visibly upset as she learned that dozens of people were injured during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Bloom said she and Fields had just relocated to the Toledo area from Florence, Kentucky, a Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb.

Related: White nationalist clashes linked to helicopter deaths in VA, officials say

Now, U.S. officials have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly attack.

The investigation was announced late Saturday by officials of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI.

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has begun the investigation and will have the full support of the Justice Department.

Sessions says, “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice.”

He adds, “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”