The man was identified by Charlottesville police as Richard Wilson Preston. Preston, who is from outside Baltimore, Maryland, is thought to be the man seen firing into a crowd in a video published on Twitter Saturday by the ACLU of Virginia.
In the video, a man walking with participants in the "Unite the Right Rally" rally pulls a pistol and shoots into a crowd of leftist counter-protesters.
The shooter in the video wears a tactical vest and a bandana and appears to yell a racial slur at an African-American protester before firing his weapon.
— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) August 26, 2017
But this isn’t the first time a man named Richard Preston has shown up in the company of violent racists. USA Today reports that a Richard Preston appeared at a 2013 county municipal meeting in Baltimore as an imperial wizard for the Ku Klux Klan. In full hooded regalia, he defended the group as not racist, but only wishing to "stop Barack Obama," who was US president at the time.
"If we don't stop Barack Obama, if we don't stop this government all together, that is running us into the ground, working us like dogs, so that they can keep taking it and giving it to somebody else, we're not going to have a country," Preston said according to the report. He argued that the KKK was merely "a Christian organization."
Whether the Preston with Klan ties is the same as the man accused of firing the pistol has not been confirmed.
CNN reports that the Preston arrested Saturday faces a felony charge of discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, which could earn him a decade in prison. After being arrested in Maryland following a fugitive warrant issued in Virginia, Preston was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center, according to the Baltimore Sun.
On Sunday the Bryn Mawr School, where Preston served as a maintenance person from 1996 to 2001, issued a comment denouncing Preston’s alleged actions as examples of "racism" and "hatred."
The Baltimore Sun quotes the school saying in a community email, "Though his employment was in the distant past, we are deeply disturbed by Mr. Preston’s alleged actions and associations. Hatred and racism are completely antithetical to our values … We stand united against bigotry, prejudice and violence of any kind."
Two more men have been arrested in connection with the far-right rally according to Charlottesville Police. Alex Michael Ramos and 18-year-old Daniel Patrick Borden, both charged with malicious wounding.
James Alex Fields Jr. remains in custody on second-degree murder charges for allegedly ramming his car into a group of unsuspecting counter-protesters during, injuring 35 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Photos surfaced of a man resembling Fields at the rally with a white nationalist group called Vanguard America.