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White nationalist rally in Virginia: Three dead as car plows into crowd amid protests in Charlottesville

A car rammed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally on Saturday in a Virginia college town, killing three person, hurting more than a dozen others and causing tension in a day full of violent confrontations.

Soon after, a Virginia State Police helicopter that officials said was assisting with the rally crashed outside Charlottesville, killing the pilot and a trooper.

The rally is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade. The governor declared a state of emergency, and police dressed in riot gear ordered people out. The group had gathered to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee, and others arrived to protest the racism.

Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, said several hundred counter-protesters were marching when "suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound." A silver Dodge Challenger smashed into another car, then backed up, barreling through "a sea of people," reports the Firstpost.

The impact hurled people into the air. Those left standing scattered, screaming and running for safety in different directions.

The driver was later identified by police as James Alex Fields Jr of Ohio. Police say Fields, 20, has been charged with charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene. A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

The turbulence began Friday night, when the white nationalists carried torches though the University of Virginia campus. It quickly spiraled into violence Saturday morning. Hundreds of people threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. At least one person was arrested in connection.

City officials said the car collision left 19 people injured and said they treated 35 patients altogether.