Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
A white man has admitted to shooting into a car full of Black teenage girls during a Trump rally and seriously injuring one of them.
The 26-year-old Iowa resident, Michael McKinney, pleaded guilty Thursday to intimidation with a dangerous weapon and willful injury after he fired his handgun at the four Black teenagers, all under the age of 16, on December 6, 2020, according to the AP. McKinney was originally charged with attempted murder and three more charges, but those were dismissed in a plea agreement.
McKinney, an Army vet, was part of a slow moving parade of cars rolling through Des Moines last December on its way to a Trump rally near the Capitol. The teen girls confronted the group, which greatly outnumbered them, and shouted anti-Trump slogans at the crowd. That’s when the Trump supporters surrounded the girls’ car and began shouting and honking their horns, the AP reported.
“They were saying some racist slurs and the girls argued with them and it went from there,” Danielle Gross, the mother of the teen who was shot, told the AP.
The girls tried to escape, and accidentally backed into one of the trucks in the rally. Almost immediately after the collision McKinney fired once at the car of teenagers. A 15-year-old girl was hit in the leg and taken to a nearby hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries, according to police.
McKinney will be sentenced on August 9.
The owner of the truck the girls’ had accidentally hit, Bob Brekke Jr., said he was glad McKinney shot at the girls, the AP reported. Although his vehicle ultimately ended up with a scratch, the 73-year-old white man said he was “relieved” because he thought they may be armed, the AP reported. Brekke said the girls called him a white supremacist and were threatening his life.
Bystander video of the shooting obtained by police shows McKinney in body armor shooting at the girls. Police also said he had two loaded magazines in his pants and another gun in his car, according to NBC.
The police reports from the December incident have no record of race or mention of Trump. In fact, there was no mention by cops of the rally whatsoever and they originally made the shooting seem like a traffic confrontation.
After putting out an updated report the next day, the cops half-heartedly acknowledged the rally by calling it a “gathering of people.”
The Des Moines Police Department did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Trump rallies have seen their fair share of violence. A Trump supporter was shot at close range and killed during a similar caravan in Portland last August. QAnon supporters have even started to explicitly call for violence at Trump rallies, drawing support from militia groups like the Proud Boys and the 3 Percenters.