Man Sentenced to Up to 10 Years for Shooting Into Car of Black Teens After Trump Rally

A man was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for shooting into a car full of Black teenage girls, injuring one girl, after a Donald Trump rally on December 6 in Iowa.

Michael McKinney pleaded guilty in June to intimidation with a dangerous weapon and willful injury for the shooting after a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Prosecutors additionally charged McKinney earlier with attempted murder, assault while participating in a felony, reckless use of a firearm and going armed with intent.

The judge noted McKinney's lack of criminal history and honorable discharge from the military, and ordered two sentences to run concurrently for a maximum of 10 years. There is no mandatory minimum for McKinney to serve before he becomes eligible for parole.

Authorities have been criticized for downplaying the event and initially characterizing it as a traffic incident. Critics also questioned whether the shooting was racially motivated, but McKinney was not charged with a hate crime.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone noted in January that the strongest hate crime charge in Iowa only carries five years in prison.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Des Moines Capitol
Michael McKinney was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for shooting into a car of Black teenage girls, injuring one girl, on Dec. 6 outside the Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. Getty Images

Authorities said the girls in the car and rally participants were exchanging insults when the teenagers' car was surrounded by Trump supporters. The car backed up, hitting a pickup truck.

At that point, McKinney, an Army veteran who was wearing body armor and carrying several firearms, shot into the car, hitting a then-15-year-old girl in the leg. He later told police he felt he was in danger and was protecting himself, according to court records.

In a statement read to the court Monday, the girl said she believed she was going to die that day and didn't know if she would be able to walk again, The Des Moines Register reported.

McKinney, who has been in custody since his arrest, apologized to the girl and said he used poor judgment that day.

Authorities downplayed the political and racial context of the shooting, saying it grew out of a traffic dispute. The rally was sponsored by Women for America First, the pro-Trump group that later hosted the January 6 rally in Washington, D.C., before the Capitol insurrection.

Trump supporters criticized authorities for charging McKinney, arguing that his shot protected rallygoers by scaring the car away and noting that McKinney frequented pro-police "Back the Blue" rallies.

McKinney mugshot
Army veteran Michael McKinney was sentenced to up to 10 years for shooting into a car full of Black teens after a Trump rally in Iowa. Above, McKinney is shown in a December 6, 2020, booking photo released by the Polk County Jail in Des Moines, Iowa. Polk County Jail via AP