World

FBI launches federal probe into car ramming that killed woman

CHARLOTTESVILLE The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it has opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances that led a driver to plow a car into a crowd while white nationalist activists and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville on Saturday.

The car ramming killed a 32-year-old woman and wounded 19 people, including some with life-threatening injuries, AFP reported.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the top law enforcement official in the country, said "the violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice".

Mr Sessions said he had spoken with FBI director Chris Wray, along with FBI agents on the scene and law enforcement officials from Virginia, the state home to Charlottesville.

Part of what made the case become a federal one was that the chief suspect, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr, crossed state lines, travelling from Ohio to Virginia. Fields is in police custody.

Federal authorities are also looking into a helicopter crash that killed two Virginia state policemen aiding efforts to quell the clashes, Reuters reported.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, declared an emergency and halted the white nationalist rally planned for Saturday, but that did not stop the violence.

"Please go home and never come back," was Mr McAuliffe's message for the white supremacists, delivered at a news conference.

"There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America," he added.

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