Charlottesville Driver Previously Accused of Beating Mother - NBC Chicago
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Charlottesville Driver Previously Accused of Beating Mother

A high school teacher said James Alex Fields Jr. was fascinated with Nazism and idolized Adolf Hitler. A judge denied bond for Fields on Monday



    Man Suspected of Killing Woman at Va. Rally Denied Bond

    The Ohio man accused of plowing his car into counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia was denied bond in his first court appearance Monday. (Published Monday, Aug. 14, 2017)

    The driver charged with killing a woman at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was previously accused of beating his mother and threatening her with a knife, according to police records released Monday.

    Samantha Bloom, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, repeatedly called police about her son, James Alex Fields Jr., in 2010 and 2011, telling officers he was on medication to control his temper, transcripts from 911 calls show.

    Fields, 20, is accused of ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters on Saturday in Charlottesville, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

    Fields, described by a former high school teacher as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, was charged with second-degree murder.

    Violence Erupts at White Nationalist Rally

    [NATL] Violence Erupts at White Nationalist Rally

    A white nationalist rally turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    A judge denied him bail Monday after the public defender's office said it couldn't represent him because a relative of someone in the office was injured in Saturday's protest.

    Fields was assigned a local attorney, and another hearing was set for Aug. 25.

    Records show that Fields was arrested and put in juvenile detention after his mother reported in 2011 that he stood behind her wielding a 12-inch knife.

    In another incident in 2010, she said her son smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games. There was no indication in the records that he was arrested.

    Also Monday, a former classmate told The Associated Press that on a school trip to Europe in 2015, a teenage Fields couldn't stand the French and said he only went on the trip so that he could visit "the Fatherland" — Germany.

    "He just really laid on about the French being lower than us and inferior to us," said Keegan McGrath.

    Woman, Troopers Killed After White Supremacist Rally

    [NATL-DC] Woman, Troopers Killed After White Supremacist Rally

    A 20-year-old man from Ohio has been charged for ramming into a crowd of counter-protesters after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Two troopers also died after their helicopter crashed a few miles from the rally. They were flying above the violence to help officers on the ground. News4's Derrick Ward and Chris Lawrence have team coverage.

    (Published Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017)

    McGrath, now 18, said he challenged Fields on his beliefs, and the animosity between them grew so heated that it came to a boil at dinner on their second day. He said he went home after three or four days because he couldn't handle being in a room with Fields.

    The incident shocked McGrath because he had been in German class with Fields for two unremarkable years.

    "He was just a normal dude" most of the time, though he occasionally made "dark" jokes that put his class on edge, including one "offhand joke" about the Holocaust, McGrath said.

    McGrath said Fields was no outcast: "He had friends. He had people who would chat with him."

    Meanwhile, under pressure to speak out more forcefully, President Donald Trump condemned Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as "criminals and thugs" and declared that "racism is evil."

    Trump's initial failure on Saturday to denounce the groups by name, and his blaming of the violence on "many sides," prompted criticism from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

    Solemn Mood in Charlottesville After Violence

    [NATL-DC] Solemn Mood in Charlottesville After Violence

    A makeshift memorial was assembled near the place where a car plowed into a crowd of people, killing one woman. News4's Derrick Ward spoke with a Charlottesville resident who says she worries about how the violence and hatred will affect her children.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    A teacher who taught Fields in high school said Sunday that Fields was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Hitler, and had been singled out in the ninth grade by officials at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky, for his "deeply held, radical" convictions on race.

    Fields also confided that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger and had been prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, according to the teacher, Derek Weimer.

    Fields later enlisted in the Army and reported for basic training in 2015 but was released from active duty four months later because of what military described only as "a failure to meet training standards."

    The violence in Charlottesville also was blamed for the deaths of two Virginia State Police officers in a helicopter crash.

    Fields had been photographed hours before the attack with a shield bearing the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that took part in the protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The group on Sunday denied any association with Fields.