NEWS

Video Shows Man Shooting At Crowd During Charlottesville Rally

27/08/2017 1:38 PM AEST | Updated 27/08/2017 1:39 PM AEST
ACLU of Virginia
Richard Wilson Preston was arrested for firing a gun during the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.

A man attending the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month fired his gun in the direction of a black counterprotester who was holding a torch, and police in their vicinity did not seem to respond.

Those events appear in a video filmed two weeks ago by a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and published by the civil rights group on Saturday.

As seen in the footage below, a man in a blue sleeveless shirt, a green vest and a bandana on his head pulls out a gun and aims it at a counterprotester, who is off camera and appears to be holding a makeshift lit torch. The first man appears to yell a racial slur at the black man, then fires the gun toward the ground in the direction of the counterprotesters. 

The shooter then leaves the scene by joining a line of white supremacist protesters and walking past law enforcement officers, who were standing behind metal barricades about 10 feet away

Police arrested Richard Wilson Preston, 52, in connection with the incident in the video above, the Daily Progress reported on Saturday. Wilson was charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school during the so-called “Unite The Right” rally on Aug. 12. He is in custody in Towson, Maryland.

Rosia Parker, a Charlottesville activist who was there when the man fired his gun, told the New York Times that police did nothing when the shooting occurred.

“We all heard it and ran ― I know damn well they heard it,” Parker told the Times, referencing the police who were standing behind the barricades. “They never moved.”

Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, told the newspaper that troopers did not react to the shooting because they couldn’t hear the gun being fired over “the loud volume of the crowd yelling and chanting, drums and music.” 

“Had any one of our troopers witnessed that incident they would have immediately acted just as they did for the other four arrests made during the weekend,” Geller told the Times.

In the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, the ACLU of Virginia has called on Charlottesville police to release body camera footage from the rally showing any civil rights violations similar to the one in the video.

According to the ACLU’s official statement, the video of the shooting is “consistent with our regular calls” for law enforcement agencies to release footage from the protests “that depicts any incident of public concern.”

The video was discovered while ACLU staffers were reviewing footage that staff and volunteers documented at the Charlottesville rally. The group turned in the video to the FBI on Aug. 17 and sent copies to the Virginia State Police and Charlottesville Police Department on Aug. 20. A person familiar with the video told HuffPost the ACLU refrained from making the video public until an arrest was made.

The Charlottesville Police Department and the Charlottesville communications director did not return HuffPost’s request for comment.

Only eight people were arrested on the day that violence broke out between white supremacists, fringe groups and anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, according to the Times. Among those arrested was James Fields, a 20-year-old white supremacist who killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others when he rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters. 

Two other arrests were made in connection with another violent crime caught on video that took place during the rally. Police arrested Daniel Patrick Borden, 18, and Alex Michael Ramos, 33, in connection with the beating of Deandre Harris, a black 20-year-old who was protesting the white supremacy rally.

A mob of white supremacists beat Harris with metal poles in a parking lot near police headquarters during the rally, leaving Harris bloodied, with a broken wrist, deep gashes to the head and a chipped tooth. The assault on Harris was filmed and shared widely on social media.

Also on HuffPost
Clashes In Charlottesville

More On This Topic