In retrospect, maybe someone in James Alex Fields Jr.’s life should have seen the signs. It’s an easy thing to say, of course, after the fact. But as more information emerges about the 20-year-old who is charged with ramming his Dodge Charger into a crowd of anti-racism demonstrators, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the more it becomes clear he was a troubled young man.
We now know that Fields had a short, somewhat disastrous military career. He reported for Army basic training in August of 2015, but was kicked out of active duty that December for failing to meet basic training standards. Says Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson:
“The Army can confirm that James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015. He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015. As a result, he was never awarded a military occupational skill nor was he assigned to a unit outside of basic training.”
One of Fields’ high school teachers, Derek Weimer, told the Associated Press that he had helped Fields with the military application process during his senior year and that he hoped the military would help expose Fields to people from different races. Because, as Weimer noted, Fields’ fascination with white supremacy had started to “creep out” while in high school.
Weimer recalled that school officials had singled out Fields when he was in 9th grade for his political beliefs and “deeply held, radical” convictions on race and Nazism.
“It was a known issue,” he said.
Weimer also revealed to the AP that “Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Fields.”
The writing was on the wall. (Excuse the pun.)
Additionally, The Daily Caller reports that Fields had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been subscribed anti-psychotics.
For her part, Fields’ mother seems to have been unaware of the depth of her son’s issues, telling the media should thought he was heading to some sort of Trump rally.
Even the organizers of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville are trying to distance themselves from Fields.
Fields has been charged with second-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding.