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Maryland Ku Klux Klan leader gets 4 years in prison for gunshot at Charlottesville rally

Richard Wilson Preston Jr. of Baltimore, the leader of the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, has been charged with discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school during the Unite the Right rally. (ACLU of Virginia video)

A Ku Klux Klan member from Maryland who pleaded no contest to firing a gun at a white nationalist rally last summer in Virginia has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Charlottesville Circuit Court records show Richard Preston was sentenced Tuesday to eight years, with four of those years suspended.

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Prosecutors said Preston fired a handgun once toward the ground while standing on a sidewalk crowded with rally-goers and counterprotesters after initially pointing the gun at a black man with an improvised flamethrower during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in the Charlottesville’s downtown No one was struck.

His charge, discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, carried a penalty of between two and 10 years in prison.

Preston has spoken out publicly as an imperial wizard of the KKK.

In a previous telephone interview from jail, Preston told The Sun he is being misrepresented as a violent racist. He said he didn't go to Charlottesville as a KKK leader, but as a member of a militia that went to protect rally participants and a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

"Charlottesville is being blown out of proportion," he said. "We came there to try to keep the peace."

Preston founded the Confederate White Knights of the KKK around 2013.

Baltimore Sun reporter Catherine Rentz contributed to this article.

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