White Army vet charged in shooting Black girl at Trump rally

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A White Army veteran shot and wounded a 15-year-old girl when he shot a car carrying four black teenagers during a tense confrontation during a Trump rally near the Iowa Capitol last month.

Michael McKinney, 25, is charged with attempted murder in the Dec.6 shooting in Des Moines. McKinney, who was heavily armed and wearing a bulletproof vest, told police he fired the shot in self-defense. A resident of Little St. Charles, Iowa, McKinney posted on Facebook in favor of the far-right Proud Boys and against Black Lives Matter.

In a press release detailing McKinney’s arrest, state police described an afternoon shootout in a parking lot and made no mention of the Trump car rally or the race of those involved. A city police spokesperson said early reports indicated the shooting was traffic related. Criminal Investigations Division spokesman Mitch Mortvedt said the agency has released immediate facts and circumstances as required.

But an Associated Press review shows the shooting was sparked by a bellicose political clash between a large group of white Trump supporters and four unarmed black girls all aged 16 and under.

The teenage driver’s mother said the girls argued with Trump supporters over politics and were subjected to racist slurs. The rallies blamed the teens for starting the confrontation, saying they harassed and threatened the crowd.

The girls’ car found itself surrounded by Trump supporters who were yelling and honking their horns before the driver backed up and hit a van. It is not known if the collision was accidental. McKinney told police he fired at the time for protection.

An investigator said in court documents McKinney does not appear to be one of those rallyers who exchanged words with the girls before the shooting. Bystander video obtained by police shows McKinney approaching the vehicle, pulling a handgun from his belt and shooting into the car at a distance of 4.5 meters (15 feet), court documents show.

The bullet hit the leg of a girl who had argued with members of the crowd through the vehicle’s sunroof. The car rushed to take him to the hospital.

The owner of the van, 73, Bob Brekke Jr., told AP he was happy McKinney shot in the car and scared the girls, saying he feared they were armed .

“I felt relieved,” said Brekke, whose truck sustained minor scratches in the collision.

Brekke said the girls shouted anti-Trump epithets at him and others as the rally progressed in the heavily Democratic city. He said their vehicle was driving wild, entering and exiting the trailer, and followed him to the parking lot where the route ended.

Fans of the president, who were rallying to support his attempts to subvert the November election, initially “had fun” making fun of the girls, Brekke said.

Brekke, a retired airport security officer, said he asked if they were on welfare and unemployed. He said they called him a white supremacist and threatened him and his wife.

McKinney’s attorney, Kent Balducci, said the Jan. 6 mob attack on the United States Capitol, which included many ex-servicemen, would not help his client’s case, as the public will establish comparisons.

But he argued that “the political factors are foreign” and that McKinney’s actions should be seen as self-defense. The teenage driver may have used the vehicle as a weapon instead of just trying to run away from the angry crowd, he said.

Balducci said McKinney wore body armor because he had been threatened at previous Trump rallies and feared …

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