Police have confirmed a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed outside Charlottesville. Two troopers were killed.
According to Local 8 News in Knoxville, police said the helicopter was assisting law enforcement officers monitor the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Reports stated Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Trooper-Pilot Burke M.M. Bates of Quinton were killed in the crash.
Lt. Cullen was reported to be the son of Loudon County Commissioner Henry Cullen, according to the Loudon County Sheriff's Office, and Local 8 News said Trooper Burke was believed to have family in Knox County, according to investigators.
Governor Bill Haslam issued a statement on the deaths of the officers and the victims of the car crash in Charlottesville:
"Crissy and I send our sympathy and prayers to the families of the victims in Charlottesville. Senseless violence and hatred are not who we are as Americans and should be condemned by everyone. We particularly want to express our sadness to the Tennessee families of the two Virginia troopers who lost their lives."
No further injuries were reported from the helicopter crash that took place just a few hours after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting against the white nationalist rally.
In that crash, one person was killed and at least two dozen were hurt.
Authorities said the cause of the helicopter crash remained under investigation by the state police, FAA, and NTSB; however, there was no indication of foul play.
“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Lieutenant Cullen was a highly-respected professional aviator and Trooper-Pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth.”
Local 8 News said Lieutenant Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Lieutenant Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.
Trooper-Pilot Bates would have turned 41 years old on Sunday. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. Trooper-Pilot Bates is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.