Man arrested after video shows man firing a gun ‘Unite the Right’ rally

Richard Wilson Preston, 52, charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school


The man, who police have identified as Richard Wilson Preston, 52, was arrested Saturday.

Courtesy ACLU VA | Cavalier Daily

A man attending the white nationalist “Unite the Right” on Aug. 12 was captured on video aiming his firearm at counter protesters before firing his weapon into the ground, putting it back into his holster and walking away.

The man, who police have identified as Richard Wilson Preston, 52, was arrested Saturday and is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, Md. Preston was charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.

The firearm discharge was originally brought to the attention of the authorities by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia as it was in the process of reviewing all photos and videos taken by ACLU-VA staff and volunteers the day of the rally.

The ACLU-VA originally shared the video with the FBI on Aug. 17 and later with the Virginia State Police and Charlottesville Police Department on Aug. 20 before publicly releasing the video on Aug. 26.

“We believe that the public interest is best served by transparency,” the ACLU-VA said in a statement on their website. “Our decision to release the video of this significant event is consistent with our regular calls for law enforcement to release body-camera video that depicts any incident of public concern.”

The video depicts a man police believe to be Preston exiting Emancipation Park with a bulletproof vest and a holstered handgun before aiming at and firing the gun near a counter-protester, who appears to be using an aerosol spray can as an improvised flamethrower or torch in the general direction of the protesters.

Although the video shows numerous law enforcement officials near the scene of the incident, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police has said none of the officers witnessed the shooting due to the loud volume of the nearby crowd and would have acted if they had been aware of the firearm going off.

The Charlottesville Police Department has also charged two men with malicious wounding in relation to an aggravated assault that occurred the day of the rally in the Market Street Parking Garage.

Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist who was featured in a “VICE News Tonight” documentary about recent events in Charlottesville,” also turned himself in last week for multiple felonies related to the use of pepper spray against counter-protesters during the Aug. 11 torchlit march on Grounds.

The police urge anyone with relevant information regarding the events of Aug. 12 to contact them via email at


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