Man accused of driving through Black Lives Matter protest in Virginia arrested in Lake City

Emanuel Wilder was wanted for failing to appear in court, authorities say

LAKE CITY, Fla. – A man suspected of driving a pickup truck through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Virginia Beach this spring was arrested Wednesday in Lake City, police said.

A Lake City Police Department spokesperson told News4Jax that Emanuel William Wilder, 20, was captured late Wednesday evening when officers responded to a 911 call about an assault near U.S. Highway 90 and Interstate 75.

According to the spokesperson, Wilder fit the description of the person they were looking for, but he ended up not being the suspect. The spokesperson said that when an officer ran Wilder’s name, it came back as a person wanted by police in Virginia.

Last week, an arrest warrant was issued for Wilder after authorities said he failed to show up to court two consecutive times to answer charges of reckless driving, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and abusive language.

All four of those charges are misdemeanors that stem from an incident in Virginia Beach in late May when multiple news cameras and cellphone cameras recorded Wilder allegedly driving through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, causing them to run for cover. Video from a helicopter showed protestors narrowly escaping the red pickup truck before it sped away. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

Wilder was eventually arrested and was awaiting his day in court to answer to the charges in connection to the protest incident, but when authorities said he failed to show up at two consecutive court hearing, the warrant was issued for his arrest.

Days after his initial arrest, Wilder spoke with WAVY-TV about what happened.

“If I went to a protest to run over people like they say I did, why wouldn’t I run over the lady who was standing in front of my truck, pushing against my truck?” he said.

He said he is not a racist and he supports police.

“I was flying American flags. Everyone wants to stand for what they represent. I was standing for what I represent — patriotism," Wilder said. "Your calls may not be exactly my calls, but I stand for unity and one. That was not unity and one. I support Black Lives Matter, but I do not support the violence.”

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson reviewed the footage from the protest in May and said Wilder’s statements are not consistent with what he saw in the video.

As of Thursday afternoon, Wilder remained in the Columbia County jail without bond awaiting extradition back to Virginia.

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