Video Shows Police Standing Back After Man Shoots At Charlottesville Crowd

NYT/ACLU of Virginia

Police have arrested a man suspected of shooting in the direction of a crowd of counter-protesters during the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12, the New York Times first reported Friday.

Multiple outlets later reported that Richard Wilson Preston, 52, was one of three people against whom police had announced charges Saturday in connection with the “Unite the Right” rally. He was charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.

The Daily Progress reported Saturday that police said Preston had fired his weapon “in the 100 block of West Market Street, which is a corner of Emancipation Park, where the rally was held.”

But, the paper added, neither police nor city officials confirmed that Preston was the same man as the one shown in video provided by the ACLU of Virginia to the Times and the Daily Progress. Lt. Steve Upman, public information officer of the Charlottesville Police Department, was not immediately available for comment Saturday night.

Preston is a well-known imperial wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He regularly gives interviews, such as to PennLive in 2013.

He spoke to WANE-TV a couple days after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

“Nobody was in conflict until antifa showed up and started swinging,” Preston said at the time, using the shorthand for “anti-fascists.” Preston added separately, referring to the white nationalist groups in attendance: “We didn’t go there to create havoc and a fight. We went there to protect the monument.”

Preston also said, referring to the violence: “The Unite the Right people didn’t start this, but they ended it because there was a lot of antifa bleeding.”

Two others — Daniel Patrick Borden, 18, and Alex Michael Ramos, 33 — were charged with malicious wounding in connection with the brutal beating of Deandre Harris, 20, in a parking garage.

Preston and Borden were in police custody, the Daily Progress reported.

The ACLU of Virginia’s video shows Preston yelling “Hey nigger! Hey!” before pointing a hand gun in the direction of a black man wielding a makeshift flame thrower.

The firearm appears to malfunction before the man tries again and places a shot in a nearby bush.

The man then strolls casually away, past a wall of police officers who make no effort to stop him.

A spokesperson for the state police, Corinne Geller, told the Times that police officers shown in the video to be mere feet away from the gun shot had not heard it because it was “muffled by the loud volume of the crowd yelling and chanting, drums and music.” But the Times reported that the shot was audible in another video, which had been filmed close to other police officers.

The man with the makeshift flamethrower, Corey Long, achieved some degree of notoriety when a picture of him fending off Confederate flag wielding protesters went viral.

A counter demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A counter demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“There was a white supremacist, he actually pointed a gun at us while we were standing there,” Long told CNN’s Don Lemon a few days after the rally, describing the scene on Aug. 12. “First he pointed it at my head, and then he shot it at the ground.”

One counter-protester in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, Heather Heyer, was killed when a man who had earlier been photographed with a white nationalist group allegedly rammed his car into a crowd.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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