On Monday, Aug. 9, an Iowa man was sentenced to up to ten years in jail for discharging a weapon into a car full of Black adolescent girls during a Trump rally in December.
Michael McKinney, 26, pled guilty in June to charges of malicious harm and intimidation with a dangerous weapon. McKinney had no prior criminal record and had been honorably discharged from the service, therefore the judge ordered that his sentences be served consecutively for a maximum of ten years.
“Those attempting to argue that this was deserved must realize that that bullet could have ricocheted and killed someone — not just the victim and those in the car, but anyone nearby,” Judge Scott Beattie said, adding that the crime is “a day that will forever change the life of the young victim in this case.”
Prosecutors had requested that the sentences be served in order for a total of 20 years. According to The Des Moines Register, there is no minimum sentence McKinney must serve before he is eligible for parole.
McKinney claimed he shot into the car in self-defense during a rally at the Iowa Capitol in December, but the Army veteran, who had expressed support for the Proud Boys and the “Back the Blue” movement, admitted in June that he had intentionally fired into the vehicle, “causing the occupants to fear serious injury from my action,” and that one girl had been seriously injured as a result.
Outside the building, rallygoers encircled a van containing several Black teenagers as pro-Trump activists battled with counter-protesters. When McKinney, who wasn’t participating in the altercation that led to the shooting, grabbed a revolver from his belt and shot into the car from 15 feet away, the then-15-year-old victim was standing up disputing with demonstrators through the sunroof of the vehicle.
The young lady was hit in the leg and was brought to the hospital. McKinney was dressed with body armor and had two loaded magazines in his pants, as well as another pistol in his vehicle with Trump stickers. He attempted to conceal evidence by concealing the shell casing in the trunk of his car and only confessed when others identified him.
The victim, who is now 16 years old, read an impact statement in court on Monday. “The day I was shot, I thought I was going to die. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to walk again,” she wrote, later adding, “I’m a 16-year-old young lady who would love to love herself, but it’s difficult when I look at my scars and remember the events of December 6, 2020.”
Since his arrest, McKinney has been held in detention and has apologized for his behavior. “In this case, I made a mistake,” he admitted. “I want to say how honestly and deeply sorry I am.”
“I’ll be honest: I’m still mystified as to how this happened,” Judge Beattie continued, adding, “I understand you’ve taken responsibility for it, and that’s an essential factor.”
McKinney accepted a “generous” plea deal in June that allowed him to avoid additional jail time by dismissing four charges, including attempted murder, and agreeing not to pursue enhancements that would have required him to serve five years on each count before being eligible for parole.