Virginia woman killed in Charlottesville ‘died doing what was right’

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The woman killed in Charlottesville on Saturday has been identified as 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Sunday.

Heyer, of Charlottesville, was killed after a car rammed into a crowd of demonstrators protesting against white supremacists.

A candlelight vigil for Heyer was planned for Sunday in Charlottesville.

“Heather Heyer was murdered while protesting against hate. We are raising money to give to her family for anything that they may need,” a message on a GoFundMe Page in her memory read. “Her mother (whom I will not name until she is ready) said ‘She died doing what was right. My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her.’”

The GoFundMe has raised $80,000 by late Sunday morning.

Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a crowd following a dispersed gathering of white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville Saturday at about 1:42 p.m.

“A Dodge Challenger was traveling south on 4th Street at a high rate of speed when it rear-ended a sedan headed south on 4th Street. The impact of that crash pushed the sedan into the minivan in front of it. The minivan had slowed for a crowd of people crossing through the intersection,” a spokeswoman for the City of Charlottesville said. “The impact of the crash pushed the vehicles into the crowd of pedestrians. The Dodge Challenger fled the scene, but was located and stopped a short time later by Charlottesville Police.”

The driver of the Dodge Challenger, identified as James A. Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was taken into custody and charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit-and-run.

Governor McAuliffe called Fields a terrorist who weaponized a car.

Suspect's mother: 'I told him to be careful'

Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, told the Toledo Blade, a CNN affiliate, that her son told her he planned to attend an "alt-right" rally.

"I told him to be careful... if they are going to rally, to make sure he is doing it peacefully," she told the newspaper.

James Alex Fields Jr. (Credit: WTVR)

She said he texted her Friday that he had dropped off his cat at her house so he could attend the rally, the newspaper reported.

"I try to stay out of his political views,” she said. “I don’t get too involved.”

CNN's attempt to reach Bloom were unsuccessful.

Videos on social media capture horror

Video of the incident shows a gray Dodge Challenger driving quickly down a narrow side street lined with walking protesters. The sports car rams into the back of a silver convertible, which hits the van in front of it. Soon the Dodge driver slams the car in reverse, going back up the street at a high rate of speed, dragging its front bumper. Several people chase the car. As the sports car retreats, a red and white athletic shoe falls off the bumper.

Another video shows at least one person being thrown over the rear of the car onto the roof of the silver convertible then sliding down onto the hood.

Witness Chris Mahony said he and a friend, who shot one of the videos, were walking down the street when he saw the gray car on the other side of the street.

"It just sat there, looking down the road," he said. "I thought that's a bit strange. There didn't seem to be any other cars stopping him from going. And then a couple moments we heard a car going incredibly fast down the road and then it plowed into the crowd."

The investigation

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."