The father of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed Saturday amid racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, said he forgives his daughter’s accused killer.
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“I can’t hate the man who did this to her because that would make me as bad as the people who did this,” Mark Heyer told the New York Post on Sunday. “As far as I’m concerned, he was deceived by the devil.”
Heather Heyer was killed when police said a car driven by Ohio man James Alex Fields Jr., 20, slammed into two other vehicles and ran down demonstrators who were protesting a rally organized by white supremacists in Charlottesville.
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Fields’ former high school teacher, Derek Weimer, told CNN that Fields “was very big into Nazism. He really had a fondness for Adolf Hitler.”
He traveled to Charlottesville to take part in the Unite the Right rally, which was aimed at protesting the removal of a Confederate monument from the city’s Emancipation Park. The protest garnered the attention of Heather Heyer, who joined counterprotesters Saturday.
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“My daughter was fighting for equal rights, demonstrating against hatred and doing what she thought was right,” Mark Heyer told the Post. “She ended up dying to prove it.”
Mark Heyer described his daughter to CNN as a compassionate woman with strong convictions.
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"She was always passionate about the beliefs she held,” he told the news network. “She had a bigger backbone than I did.”
Police arrested Fields on charges including second-degree murder, malicious wounding and hit-and-run. A judge ordered him held without bail Monday until a hearing scheduled for Aug. 25.