(AP) – University of Virginia librarian Tyler Magill was among the counter-protesters surrounded by torch-bearing white supremacists Friday night at the school’s famous Thomas Jefferson statue.
On Sunday, Magill was shouting down and disrupting a press conference by Jason Kessler, who organized Saturday’s so-called Unite the Right rally that devolved into violence, including the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
By Tuesday, Magill’s vision was failing. He went to the emergency room, where he had a stroke. He was taken into intensive care.
Doctors determined the stroke was caused by physical trauma that Magill, 46, had suffered in recent days to an artery in his neck.
The only injury he suffered, according to friends, was when he was hit in the neck with a torch at Friday’s confrontation.
By Wednesday afternoon, his wife, Sena Magill, said he was sounding better but remains confused and didn’t remember much about the injury that led to the stroke.
She was out of town over the weekend and was driving back Wednesday from Alabama to see him.
“I do know that he had oil poured on him, he had torches thrown at him,” she said. “He was sounding much better today than yesterday.”
Magill, who helps manage the stacks in the university library system, was committed to taking a stand in a peaceful way against the hate groups who rallied in Charlottesville, she said. When he disrupted Kessler’s press conference, photos show Magill with his arms raised; she said he wanted to make sure no one would mistakenly assume he was threatening anyone physically.
“He was trying to stay behind the scenes, and sometimes he just couldn’t,” she said.
A friend, Lisa Moore, set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Magill’s medical expenses. In less than a day, the site raised more than $75,000, thanks to a tweet from Hollywood producer Judd Apatow and other prominent support on social media.
She said online sleuths are trying to find video of Magill being hit by a torch, which could possibly enable police to identify and arrest an attacker.
Moore said she is frustrated by the assertion that both sides in this weekend’s confrontations were at fault, or that people in Charlottesville should have simply ignored the protesters.
“They came into our town,” she said. “We were just defending our town. … It was like a war zone. Nobody wants that.”