Who Was Berke M.M. Bates? Charlottesville Protests Are Linked To A Helicopter Crash
The violence in Charlottesville on Saturday turned deadly after a car mowed down counter-protestors, killing at least one person. Near the site of the protests in Albemarle County, two state troopers died after the crash of a police helicopter, reportedly part of law enforcement efforts to monitor the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Berke M.M. Bates was one of the Virginia state troopers who reportedly died at the scene; he would have turned 41 years old on Sunday.
Bates, who was from Quinton, Virginia, died alongside Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, in the crash. According to WTVR, Bates had transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot only last month. He reportedly graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004.
Susan Rowland, the Virginia State Police Public Relations Coordinator, told WTVR on Saturday night that the helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a home in Albemarle County slightly before 5 p.m. According to the Associated Press, the police confirmed that the helicopter was assisting law enforcement officers tracking the protest in Charlottesville.
Bates and Cullen's deaths came hours after a car plowed into a group of people at the protest. The "Unite The Right" rally on Saturday had drawn scores of white supremacists to Charlottesville, many of whom donned Nazi regalia and carried firearms.
RIP Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va. pic.twitter.com/bN6afJFfhK— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 13, 2017
Bates had been with the Virginia State Police for 13 years and is survived by his wife and twin son and daughter. Virginia law enforcement expressed their deep condolences to the families of Bates and Cullen.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe said in a statement:
Here w/ brave men and women of the VA State Police. We mourn loss of our friends, but are stronger than ever. TY for a great job yesterday. pic.twitter.com/asMKPynmoF— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) August 13, 2017
The Officer Down Memorial Page lists the following contact for those looking to send condolences or find out more information about funeral arrangements:
According to Richmond, Virginia, station WTVR, state police have said that there's "no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash" and that an investigation is underway.