Charlottesville authorities identified Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old local woman, as the victim of Saturday’s deadly car attack on a crowd of peaceful protesters demonstrating against a planned white nationalist rally.
Heyer was fatally injured when a man drove a car into a group of protesters. She was pronounced dead at the nearby University of Virginia Hospital. Nineteen other people were injured in the attack.
Heyer was a Virginia native and worked as a paralegal at the Miller Law Group in Charlottesville. Friends told USA Today that she was “outspoken in her views against racism.” An image she posted to Facebook in November included the quote “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
Counter-protesters who came to oppose a rally organized by white nationalists and neo-Nazis were celebrating the rally’s cancellation when the attack occurred. After violence broke out Saturday morning, Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency and directed the national guard to put an end to the “Unite the Right” rally, one of the largest recent gatherings of white nationalists.
Friends who started a GoFundMe page for her family said Heyer “was murdered while protesting hate.” A woman who identified herself as a childhood friend told the New York Daily News that Heyer “died doing what was right.”
Police arrested the driver of the car, James A. Fields, Jr., and charged him with second-degree murder. Photos from earlier on Saturday show Fields marching with the white nationalist group Vanguard America. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
Two Virginia state troopers responding to the day’s events were also killed on Saturday when their helicopter crashed.
Charlottesville’s city government put out a statement with condolences to the families of Heyer and the state troopers and called Heyer’s killing a “senseless act of violence.”