A vehicle has plowed into a crowd of people during protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring nearly 20 others, local officials say. It was not immediately clear if the crash was intentional.
The incident happened just before 2 p.m. ET on Saturday when crowds of people were marching down a street in the city of Charlottesville. Most people at the location appeared to be counter-protesters against a white nationalist rally.
Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas confirmed that one person, a 32-year-old woman, was struck and killed as she was crossing the street. Her name was not immediately released and it’s unclear if she was participating in any of the protests.
A total of 35 people were treated for injuries as a result of violence during the day, including 19 people who were struck by the car, Chief Thomas said. Of those struck, 5 were said to be in a critical condition, 4 serious, 6 fair, and 4 good.
“The suspect vehicle that left the scene of the crash was located moments later and the [suspect] is in custody with charges pending,” Chief Thomas said. “We are currently treating this as a criminal homicide investigation.”
It was not immediately clear if the crash was a deliberate attack on counter-protesters. Virginia’s definition of criminal homicide includes murder but also involuntary manslaughter, which could apply to a driver who is driving under the influence.
Video footage showed that multiple cars were driving in between protesters when one car suddenly plowed into people at a high rate of speed. The vehicle reversed and fled the scene but was located elsewhere in Charlottesville a short time later.
The identity of the driver was not immediately released, although the vehicle was bearing Ohio license plates.
About three hours after the crash, a Virginia State Police helicopter which was monitoring the protests went down in a wooded area on the outskirts of Charlottesville. Both occupants – believed to be state police troopers – were killed.
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