The day before allegedly killing an anti-racist protester with a car, neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. texted a relative an ominous message, accompanied by a picture of Adolf Hitler.
Fields, 21, was indicted on 30 charges including multiple hate crimes on Monday for driving his car into a crowd of people at Unite the Right, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August. Fields was already indicted on first-degree murder counts for the attack, which killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounded at dozens more who marched in opposition to Unite the Right.
But based on his text messages and his apparent obsession with Hitler, a grand jury ruled that Fields’ attack on the anti-racist protesters amounted to a hate crime.
Fields ranted about white supremacy on multiple social media accounts prior to the Charlottesville rally.
“On these accounts, Fields expressed and promoted his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples,” the indictment reads, “expressed support of the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust; and espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial; ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white.”
Fields also allegedly expressed similar views in person, according to the indictment. Former classmates at his Ohio high school previously told Vice that Fields was known as as “the Nazi of the school,” that he was fixated on Hitler, and that he drew swastikas everywhere. A former teacher told ABC News that Fields praised Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf. Previous police reports describe Fields allegedly hitting his mother in the head and locking her in a room when she asked him to stop playing video games. In another incident, Fields allegedly threatened his mother with a 12-inch knife.
Before Fields left Ohio to drive to Charlottesville last August, a relative sent him a text message asking him to be careful, according to the indictment. Fields responded with a threatening message. “We're not the ones who need to be careful,” he allegedly wrote, sending the relative a picture of Hitler.
At the rally, Fields marched with Vanguard America, a neo-Nazi group that claims he was not a member, despite him marching with the group, wearing the same uniform, and carrying a shield with their logo. “Rally participants, including Fields, engaged in chants promoting or expressing white supremacist and other racist and anti-Semitic views,” the indictment reads.
After police ordered rally-goers to disperse, Fields returned to his car. But instead of leaving, he drove past a crowd of “racially and ethnically diverse” counter-protesters, according to the indictment. Fields “slowly proceeded in his vehicle toward the crowd and stopped and observed the crowd while idling in his vehicle.”
Then he allegedly reversed up a hill at the other end of the narrow street, stepped on the gas, and accelerated into the crowd.
The Monday indictment charged him with one count of a hate crime act resulting in death, 28 counts of hate crime acts causing bodily injury and involving an attempt to kill, and one count of racially motivated violent interference with a federally protected activity resulting in death.
Meanwhile, Fields is awaiting trial on the first-degree murder charge, as well as counts of failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death, and multiple counts of malicious wounding and aggravated malicious wounding.