Army vet pleads guilty to shooting a black girl in the Iowa Trump rally

IOWA CITY, Iowa – A supporter of former President Donald Trump pleaded guilty to crime charges for firing his pistol at a group of black girls working with pro-Trump agitators near the Iowa Capitol last December quarreled and injured one.

Michael McKinney, 26, on Wednesday pleaded guilty of dangerous weapon intimidation and willful injury, charges that result in up to 10 years in prison each. He is expected to receive a prison term if convicted on Aug. 9, but the parole board can determine how long he will actually serve.

Under an agreement that a prosecutor calls “generous,” the state will dismiss four charges, including attempted murder, and not seek any increase in the penalty that would oblige McKinney to serve at least five years in each case before being eligible for parole comes.

McKinney, an Army veteran and resident of Saint Charles, Iowa, admitted that he deliberately shot into the girls’ vehicle “because the inmates feared serious injury from my action.” He admitted that one of the 15-year-old girls was shot in the leg and seriously injured.

His trial was scheduled for Monday, and McKinney was asked to argue that he shot in self-defense after the girls’ car drove into a Trump trailer pickup.

McKinney was wearing body armor and was heavily armed when he took part in a pro-Trump slow vehicle parade through Des Moines on December 6. Police say he had a pistol, another firearm in his vehicle, and carried two loaded magazines.

A car carrying four teenage black girls began to follow the caravan as it drove through the heavily democratic city, with occupants exchanging nicknames with Trump supporters.

A confrontation broke out in a Capitol parking lot between the teenagers and the much larger group of Trump supporters. Witnesses and the teenage driver’s mother say the clash included racist and political taunts on both sides.

Trump supporters surrounded the girls’ car, shouted and honked the horn, causing the driver to shift into reverse and bump into a pickup. The video from viewers shows McKinney pulling a pistol from his waistband and firing it into the car from 4.5 meters away.

The girl who was shot had argued with the crowd through the sunroof of the vehicle.

Authorities downplayed the political and racial context of the shooting, saying it arose out of a traffic dispute. The rally was sponsored by Women for America First, the pro-Trump group that later hosted the rally on January 6 in Washington, DC, ahead of the Capitol Uprising.

Trump supporters beat up the authorities for indicting McKinney, arguing that his shot protected the rally goers by chasing the car away, and found that McKinney frequently attended police-friendly “back the blue” rallies.

Polk County Deputy Attorney Olubunmi Salami urged McKinney to accept the deal, which he noted on file would drastically reduce his prison sentence. Had McKinney been convicted on all charges in the trial, he would have spent 32 years behind bars. McKinney’s attorney, when convicted, can argue that any prison sentence he receives in each case should run concurrently.

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