A White army veteran has been charged with attempted murder for shooting a 15-year-old Black girl who was a passenger in a vehicle during a confrontation at a pro-Trump rally around the Iowa Capitol in December.
According to The Associated Press, the accused – identified as 25-year-old Michael McKinney – allegedly told the police he shot the teen in self-defense. He partook in the rally heavily armed and wearing body armor. His previous Facebook posts also reportedly revealed he supports the far-right group, Proud Boys, and he is opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Though the police described the shooting – which happened at a parking lot – as traffic-related, a review by the news outlet revealed it escalated as a result of a tense political clash between supporters of Trump and four unarmed Black teenage girls. The mother of the teenage girl who was driving the vehicle alleged the girls were subjected to racial slurs during the altercation. Attendees at the rally, however, alleged the girls rather instigated the altercation, claiming they harassed and threatened people.
During the confrontation, the Trump supporters, at a certain point, surrounded the vehicle the girls were in, shouting and blowing car horns at them. This caused the teenage driver to reverse, subsequently hitting a pickup. It could, however, not be established if the collision was intentional. A video recording by a bystander showed McKinney approaching the girls’ vehicle and opening fire, hitting one of them in the leg, court documents stated. An investigator also said it did not appear McKinney was part of the rally attendees who engaged the girls before the shooting, The Associated Press reported.
“Per the Complaint and Affidavit, Michael McKinney, 25 years of age, intentionally fired a handgun at a vehicle driving through the parking lot of the Lucas State Office Building which resulted in the victim suffering her injuries. The female victim was transported to a local hospital where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries,” the Iowa State Patrol said in a statement.
The owner of the pickup justified the shooting, telling The Associated Press the girls hurled anti-Trump slogans at them, and he was glad McKinney fired at them and scared them away as he feared they were armed.
The lawyer for McKinney also said the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters which saw some military veterans actively participating, will go against his client as people will refer his case to that. Following the announcement of the charges, supporters of Trump also registered their displeasure with authorities, arguing that McKinney opened fire to protect the rally attendees.
McKinney initially did not come forward as the shooter and he tried concealing evidence following the incident by putting the used shell casing in his car trunk. He later admitted to authorities he was the shooter after he was identified and handed over his handgun.
He is currently being held at the Polk County Jail on a $500,000 bond.