Heather D. Heyer, who was killed Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd that was protesting a rally of white nationalists, was a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised and was often moved to tears by the world’s injustices, her supervisor said.
Heather D. Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd that was protesting a rally of white nationalists, was a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised and was often moved to tears by the world’s injustices, her supervisor said.
“Heather was a very strong woman,” said Alfred Wilson, manager of the bankruptcy division at the Miller Law Group in Charlottesville, where Heyer worked as a paralegal. He said she stood up against “any type of discrimination. That’s just how she’s always been.”
Wilson said Sunday that he found her at her computer crying many times.
“Heather being Heather has seen something on Facebook or read something in the news and realized someone has been mistreated and gets upset,” he said.
Coverage of the Charlottesville attack:
A couple of years ago, she was dating someone who became agitated after learning that Wilson was black and that they were friends.
“She just didn’t like the way he was judging me as a minority male that’s doing well for myself,” Wilson said, adding that Heyer stopped seeing the man after that.
Wilson hired Heyer at the recommendation of a friend. She had a high-school diploma but didn’t have a background in law. She was working as a bartender and waitress, but he said she had an eye for detail and was a people person.
“If you can get people to open up to you, that’s what I need,” he told her. “I’ll teach you everything about the law you need to know.”
Her only flaw, he said with a laugh, was that she liked to sleep late. “I had to change my office work hours just to meet her schedule,” he said.
She worked to improve herself by taking classes and studying.
“If she’s going to do something, she made sure she understood it,” he said. She was so devoted that during her first two years on the job she didn’t take any vacations, he said.
“To have someone like Heather believe in you, that’s one of the best things that could happen to you as a person,” Wilson said.
Heyer and other paralegals at the firm attended the protest in Charlottesville, where she lived. They were walking together when a car crashed into the crowd.
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at the scene of a crash that resulted in a death, police said.
Charlottesville, in a statement about Heyer, said: “This senseless act of violence rips a hole in our collective hearts. While it will never make up for the loss of a member of our community, we will pursue charges against the driver of the vehicle that caused her death and are confident justice will prevail.”
2 killed in police helicopter crash
A Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response to the violence Saturday crashed into the woods outside of town and both troopers on board died.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he was touched by the deaths of the two troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates, whom he knew personally. McAuliffe frequently uses state-police aircraft to travel the state and said Cullen, 48, had been one of his regular pilots. Before joining the aviation unit, Bates has been a member of the state trooper team that guards the governor and his family.
“It was personal to me,” McAuliffe said Sunday at a church service.
Cullen was a 23-year veteran of the department and head of the aviation unit. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Bates joined the department in 2004, and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
Bates, who died one day short of his 41st birthday, worked for years as a trooper, first in Florida and then in Virginia. He’d recently gotten his pilot’s license so that he could apply to work for the department’s aviation unit. He got his wish, and joined the unit only last month.
Police said the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but there was “no indication of foul play.”