BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A man from Baltimore is now in custody, accused of firing a gun into a crowd of people during heated protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He’s also reportedly a leader in the KKK.
Richard Preston is currently being held in the Baltimore County Detention Center, though he is expected to be extradited to Virginia.
His arrest stems from video the ACLU turned over to the FBI, and neighbors say police raided Preston’s home early Saturday morning.
The video from the ACLU reportedly shows Maryland KKK imperial wizard Preston firing a gun into a crowd, just feet from police, during the Charlottesville protests earlier this month.
Authorities took Preston into custody over the weekend. Court records list his address as being on Cedonia Ave. in northeast Baltimore.
Stunned neighbors say they never knew he was part of the KKK.
“Always talked to me, sat on my porch and steps, and talked to me,” one of his neighbors said. “I’m standing here talking to you. I’m shocked. I mean, helluva nice guy.”
Preston gave an interview to a CBS station in Indiana after the deadly Charlottesville white nationalist rally, and he blamed Charlottesville’s mayor for the violence.
“That mayor is now responsible for everything that took place, every person that was hurt, every person that died. All of it,” Preston said. “We didn’t go there as the Klan. We didn’t go there to create havoc and a fight. We went there to protect the monument.”
16 years ago, Preston worked in maintenance at Baltimore’s Bryn Mawr School, which issued a statement, saying in part, “We are deeply disturbed by his alleged actions of such hate and violence…We stand against all forms of bigotry and racism.”
According to news reports, Preston gave a KKK recruiting speech in Cecil County in 2013, where he tried to convince the audience the Klan was not a racist, hate group. He was reportedly part of the Klan’s Rosedale chapter.
“He really didn’t show that type of personality,” another neighbor said. “You never know who’s living in your neighborhood nowadays.”
No one answered the door at Preston’s home on Monday, though neighbors were truly in disbelief.
Police say Preston’s charges stem from firing the gun within 1,000 feet of a school. He was reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest at the time.
When asked why they did not immediately arrest Preston after the incident, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman says troopers didn’t hear the gunshot.