An Iowa man was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on Monday, Aug. 9, for firing a weapon into a car full of Black teenage girls at a December Trump rally.
Michael McKinney, 26, pleaded guilty in June to charges of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and willful injury. A judge noted that McKinney did not previously have a criminal record and was honorably discharged from the military, and ordered that his sentences run concurrently for a maximum of 10 years.
“For those trying to argue this was deserved, what they do not realize is that bullet could have ricocheted and killed somebody — not just the victim and those in the car but anyone around,” said Judge Scott Beattie, adding that the crime is “A day that forever changes the life of the young victim in this case.”
Prosecutors had asked that the sentences run consecutively for a maximum of 20 years. There is no mandatory minimum McKinney must serve before he becomes eligible for parole, The Des Moines Register reported.
McKinney told authorities he shot into the car during the December rally at the Iowa Capitol in self-defense but the Army veteran, who’d expressed support for the Proud Boys and the “Back the Blue” movement, admitted in June that he’d intentionally fired into the vehicle “causing the occupants to fear serious injury from my action,” and acknowledged that one girl was seriously injured as a result.
As pro-Trump demonstrators clashed with counter-protesters outside of the building, rallygoers surrounded a vehicle containing several Black teens. The then 15-year-old victim was standing up arguing with protesters through the sunroof of the vehicle when McKinney, who wasn’t involved in the altercation that led to the shooting, pulled a gun from his waistband and shot into the car from 15 feet away.
The girl was struck in the leg and taken to a hospital. McKinney was wearing body armor and had two loaded magazines in his pants, along with another firearm with Trump decals in his vehicle. He tried to hide evidence by putting the shell casing in the back of his car and only confessed after others identified him.
Now 16 years old, the victim read an impact statement in court Monday. “I believed I was going to die the day I was shot. I didn’t know if I would be able to walk again,” she wrote, adding later “I’m a 16-year-old young lady and would love to love myself, but it’s hard when I look at my scars and remember the events of Dec. 6, 2020.”
McKinney, who has been in custody since his arrest, apologized for his actions. “I used poor judgment on this matter,” he said. “I want to truly and deeply express how sorry I am.”
Judge Beattie added, “I will be quite honest: I’m still perplexed as to how this happened,” adding, “I understand you’ve taken responsibility for it, and that’s an important factor.”
In June, McKinney accepted a “generous” plea deal that allowed him to avoid increased prison time, as the state dismissed four charges, including attempted murder, and agreed not to seek enhancements that would have required McKinney to serve five years on each count before being eligible for parole.