Richard Wilson Preston, the Imperial Wizard of the Maryland Confederate White Knights branch of the KKK, was arrested Saturday after video emerged of him shooting a gun at a protester during the Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia two weeks earlier.
Because he only aimed the gun at protester Corey Long’s head, then shot at the ground near his feet, Preston could not be charged with attempted murder. Instead, police nabbed him for discharging his weapon within a thousand feet of a school. The charge carries a sentence of two to ten years in prison. If he’s convicted of the class 4 gun felony, he will also lose his right to own a firearm and, perhaps more importantly, vote.
Preston was clearly surprised by the charges. At the time, there were multiple police present, who did nothing. The 52-year-old Nazi was giving interviews by the time the weekend was out. When WANE News Channel 15 of Fort Wayne, Indiana contacted him on the Monday following the white supremacist rally, he did not attempt to conceal his identity:
We didn’t go as the Klan. We didn’t go there to create havoc and fight. We went there to protect a monument.
The KKK leader actually blamed the mayor of Charlottesville for the violence that day, rather than the right-wing hate groups that held the event in the first place, reiterating a (subsequently debunked) claim that police were issued a “stand down” order:
They’re being told not to do their job by the mayor. That mayor is now responsible for everything that took place. Every person that was hurt. Every person that died. All of it.
For his part, the near-victim, Corey Long, told The Root that the protest was peaceful to begin with:
Until someone pointed a gun at my head. Then the same person pointed it at my foot and shot the ground.
You would recognize Mr. Long as the black protester who tried in vain to keep the Nazis at bay with an improvised blowtorch made from a can of hairspray that was thrown at his head.
Ideally, prosecutors would find a way to pin all of the blame on the organizers of the event. So far, that looks unlikely.
Video of the shooting can be seen here:
Featured image via screen capture
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