"It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler," a former teacher said of James Alex Fields Jr.
James Alex Fields Jr., the suspect accused of killing one woman by ramming his car into a group of protesters demonstrating against a downtown Charlottesville white nationalist rally Saturday afternoon, was denied bond during his initial appearance in court Monday, according to reports.
CNN reports the 20-year-old Maumee, Ohio, native appeared via video in front of a Charlottesville judge wearing a black and white jumpsuit.
Fields is being held on charges of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.
Derek Weimer, who taught Fields history at Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky, told the Toledo Blade that Fields expressed white-supremacy ideologies in school. Weimer added that he and other educators tried to change the student’s way of thinking.
“I felt it my mission to explain how vile the Nazis were,” Weimer said.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Weimer recalled that Fields wrote a paper about the Nazi military during World War II for a class called America’s Modern Wars. The teacher said the project was well-written and researched but appeared to be a “big lovefest for the German military and the Waffen-SS.”
“It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,” Weimer told the newspaper. “He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.”
When he heard about the Charlottesville attack, the teacher felt guilty.
“My first feeling: I failed, we failed,” he told the Toledo Blade.
At least 26 people were taken to a local hospital from the rally and counter-protests, the Northwest Herald reports. At least 19 of those victims are believed to be injured in the car crash, according to the New York Times.
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer identified the fatal victim as 32-year-old Heather Heyer during an appearance on Meet The Press Sunday morning, according to NBC News.