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James Alex Fields, Jr.

Charlottesville suspect James Alex Fields Jr. was denied bond in his initial court appearance


Updated August 14, 2017 10:26 AM EDT

The man suspected of killing a woman during recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, was denied bond during his initial appearance in court there Monday.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, allegedly drove a car into counter-protesters demonstrating against white nationalists in Charlottesville last Saturday.

The incident resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, 32, a paralegal who was protesting the "Unite the Right" rally taking place in the Virginia city.

Fields appeared via video in front of a Charlottesville judge wearing a black and white jumpsuit while the scene outside the court room was visibly tense.

People outside the building chanted "Nazis need to go home," with one protester saying "I hate Nazis and I want them to leave my town."

Another man prayed aloud as reporters swarmed around the courthouse, calling for racial harmony in the wake of last weekend's violence in the Virginia city.

Fields was given a court-appointed attorney during Monday's hearing, according to WSET, who said he could afford such representation but has yet to hire a lawyer.

The Ohio man was reportedly not given a public defender due to a conflict of interest with a relative of someone in the public defender's office.

No bond was purportedly set for Fields, as the court wants him to meet with an attorney first. He next has a so-called control date hearing on August 25 at 11 a.m. local time.

Fields is charged with second-degree murder and other counts after officials say he drove into a crowd in Charlottesville last Saturday, killing Heyer and wounding 19 other people.

The Ohio man idolized Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his party's ideology, according to a teacher who had him in one of his high school classes.

A Department of Justice official familiar with the probe of Saturday's bloodshed in Charlottesville told CNN earlier Monday that Fields may have intended to send a message with his actions.

The official also said that although Field's motive remains unclear, federal investigators have found enough evidence to be suspicious that he wanted to convey a message this weekend.

CNN's source added that investigators are also examining whether others helped Fields planned the attack that ultimately killed Heyer and injured more than a dozen other people.

Fields hoping to send a message would reportedly factor into whether the case against him expands to include domestic terrorism charges.

Domestic terrorism charges reportedly include criminal acts that endanger human life and are seemingly aimed at coercing or intimidating a civilian population.

CNN's source also noted that federal investigators are currently gathering evidence on whether federal hate crime charges against Fields are applicable.

The Justice Department and the FBI reportedly have federal officials working with local law enforcement authorities in Charlottesville and Maumee, Ohio, which is where Fields lived.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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