A man accused of firing a gun during the white nationalist Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12 has been charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.
Richard Wilson Preston, 52, was arrested Saturday and is currently in the custody of the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, Maryland. Charlottesville police said in a news release Saturday that Preston fired the gun in the 100 block of West Market Street, which is a corner of Emancipation Park, where the rally was held.
In addition to Preston’s arrest, Daniel Patrick Borden, 18, has been charged with malicious wounding related to an aggravated assault near the Market Street Parking Garage on Aug. 12. He was arrested on Friday and is currently in the custody of the Hamilton County Criminal Justice Center in Cincinnati.
Related to that same assault, Alex Michael Ramos, 33, also has been charged with malicious wounding. Ramos is currently wanted by the Charlottesville police and has a last known address in Marietta, Georgia.
Police and city officials did not reply to multiple requests for confirmation that Borden and Ramos’ charges are related to the beating of Deandre Harris in the Market Street Parking Garage.
The rally, scheduled to begin at noon Aug. 12, fell quickly into chaos as white nationalist groups entered the park hours earlier. An unlawful assembly was declared after ralliers and counter-protesters clashed.
Later that afternoon, area resident Heather Heyer was killed near the corner of Fourth and Water streets after a car drove into a group of counter-protesters. James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder, among other offenses. Police on Saturday said they have now identified 35 victims of the car attack.
In a video taken Aug. 12 by a legal observer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, a white man is seen at the corner of First Street North and Market Street, just outside Emancipation Park, pointing a gun and then firing it once toward a black man who had used a spray can as a torch, then putting the gun in his pocket, turning and walking away.
Police and city officials did not reply to multiple requests for confirmation that the man in the video is Preston.
The ACLU of Virginia said it noticed the specific content of the video on Aug. 16, when a legal observer uploaded it to the group’s Dropbox account.
Letters provided by the ACLU of Virginia show that staff sent the video to the FBI on Aug. 17 and then to Charlottesville and state police on Aug. 20.
“Our decision to release the video of this significant event is consistent with our regular calls for law enforcement to release body-camera video that depicts any incident of public concern,” a Saturday statement from the ACLU of Virginia said.
Virginia State Police troopers can be seen in the background of the video, standing behind barricades on First Street North. Police did not move as the man who fired the gun walked with a group of rally attendees farther west down Market Street.
Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the state police, confirmed that state troopers can be seen in the video, but said that, from where they were standing, none of the troopers witnessed the incident.
“Nor did they hear the single shot being fired because it was muffled by the loud volume of the crowd yelling and chanting, drums and music,” she said. “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.”
Charlottesville police did not respond to additional questions regarding the video by press time.
According to the city police news release, authorities are continuing to investigate the vehicle attack. Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of felony hit and run in relation to the incident. Additional charges could be filed as the investigation progresses, police said.
Any relevant information about the Aug. 12 rally and violence can be sent to city police at firstname.lastname@example.org.