Virginia Governor Terry McAulliffe held a moment of silence during a prayer vigil Sunday in Charlottesville for Heather Heyer – the woman killed when a man allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of counter protesters during violent clashes that erupted at a white nationalist rally.
A memorial of flowers, balloons, stuffed toys, and messages in chalk grew throughout the day in central Charlottesville.
Heyer was 32 years old and worked as a paralegal and a part-time waitress.
Alfred Wilson, a manager at the Miller Law Group where Heyer worked, said he would often find her sitting at her desk with her eyes filled with tears, crying over injustice and racism.
Heyer was a “very strong, very opinionated young woman,” Wilson told interviewers, saying she “made it known to all that she was all about equality.”
Heyer’s job at the law office focused on helping financially-troubled people who were on the verge of being thrown out of their homes, having their cars taken away, or needed help with their medical bills.
Wilson spoke about how Heyer broke up with a boyfriend who was offended that she had black friends.
“Her life was not about hate,” Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said, adding that she was very proud of her daughter.
James Alex Fields, the 20-year-old Ohio man accused of killing Heyer and injuring 19 others, will make his first appearance in court Monday. He is facing charges of second degree murder among other counts.
Police say Fields could be spotted standing among a group of white supremacists moments before the deadly crash.
Fields’ former high school history teacher, Derek Weimer, told various media outlets Sunday that Fields was a longtime Nazi sympathizer and an admirer of Adolf Hitler.
Weimer described a research paper Fields wrote as a “big lovefest for the German military and the Waffen-SS” and that he “really believed in that stuff.”
Weimer said he tried to steer Fields away from this obsession with the Nazis, but admitted that he failed and said racism is “tearing up our country.”
Fields’ mother appeared to be in shock when she told a television interviewer that although she knew her son was going to Charlottesville, she did not think it had anything to do with white supremacy.
“I thought it had something to do with Trump,” she said.
Virginia Governor McAuliffe also held a moment of silence for two Virginia state troopers who were on their way to Charlottesville to assist in quelling the clashes. They were killed when their helicopter crashed on Saturday.
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