Once police dispersed most of the crowd, a Dodge Challenger plowed into a crowd of protesters, hurling people into the air, killing one and injuring 19 others.
He said the dark sedan "raced down here, jumped over the speed bumps and it backed up and it hit everyone again".
The driver was later arrested, authorities said.
The incident came as hundreds of white-nationalist protesters brawled with opponents before and during a rally that was branded as "Unite the Right", which protested the removal of a statue of a Confederate general from the grounds of the University of Virginia.
And by emphasizing "many, many sides", the president treated all of the attendees that day as if they were the same, and made a disingenuous call for unity: "Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. It's been going on for a long, long time".
"The hate and division must stop now", he said. Two people were seriously injured in an "altercation" in Emancipation Park in the usually sleepy city of 50,000, reported the Daily Progress, a local newspaper. "There are not 'many sides" here, just right and wrong.' - Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Twitter.
"You will not erase us", chanted a crowd of white nationalists, while counter-protesters carried placards that read: "Nazi go home" and "Smash white supremacy". White supremacists certainly favored Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential election, and Trump has been careful to not risk their support by calling out their actions.
Trump condemns hatred "on many sides" in white nationalist protest
In declaring the state of emergency, McAuliffe said the gathering was declared an "unlawful assembly", allowing police to disperse the protesters and clear the park where the rally was to be held. What's worse is that in its aftermath, President Donald Trump had an opportunity to show real leadership but couldn't bring himself to do it.
Flowers and other mementos are left at a makeshift memorial for the victims after a auto plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the day in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. "We are determined to take our country back".
Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, said several hundred counter-protesters were marching when "suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound". "We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump", he added.
Disturbances began Friday night during a torch-lit march through the University of Virginia before escalating Saturday.
"We are in a very unsafe place right now", he said. "No good comes from violence".
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan also weighed in: "The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant". When pressed on what exactly the president saw or heard from the counterprotesters that was bigoted or hateful, the spokesman did not respond.
The president of UVA, Teresa A. Sullivan, also condemned the "unprovoked assault on members of our community". Everyone in leadership must speak out.' - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and Trump supporter.style="text-align: center;"