KKK leader found guilty of firing gun during Charlottesville rally

A Maryland man who claims to be a Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard was found guilty of illegally firing a weapon during last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Richard Preston Jr. entered a plea of no contest to the charge of firing a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school property, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors laid out the case they had planned to present, and Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore immediately found Preston guilty.

{mosads}He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced on Wednesday.

By pleading no contest, Preston acknowledged that there was enough evidence to convict him, even without him admitting he committed a crime.

That evidence included a viral video of Preston drawing a pistol and firing at an African-American counterprotester during the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally, the Post reported. 

The footage, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, shows Preston dressed in a bandana and a tactical vest.

Counterprotester Corey Long was shooting out large flames with an aerosol can when Preston fired at his feet, the Post reported. Long also faces a misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charge.

Preston argued in October that he fired his weapon because one of his friends felt threatened by the flames. 

During interviews with reporters, Preston identified himself as the imperial wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Post reported.

Another white supremacist was found guilty last week of beating a black man inside a parking garage during the protest.

Self-professed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. will head to trial in November on charges he ran over and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, the Post reported. 

Tags Charlottesville Charlottesville; Heather Heyer Grand Wizard Hate crime Heather Heyer KKK Ku Klux Klan Ku Klux Klan Neo-Nazi Richard W. Preston Jr. Unite the Right rally Virginia White supremacy White supremacy in the United States
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