CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The man who fired a pistol during a controversial rally in downtown Charlottesville last year will spend four years behind bars.

Fifty-three-year-old Richard Wilson Preston appeared in Charlottesville Circuit Court for sentencing Tuesday, August 21. He had entered a plea of no contest back on May 8, right before a three-day jury trial was to get underway. As a result, the judge found the Baltimore-area man guilty of firing a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school.

Tuesday, Judge Richard Moore handed Preston a sentence of eight years, but with four suspended. The judge had ordered a presentencing report before making his ruling.

Preston, who reportedly has ties to the Ku Klux Klan, fired a single bullet in the direction of Corey Long during the Unite the Right rally on August 12, 2017. His attorney claimed Preston was acting in self-defense.

The commonwealth argued there was no legal justification for Preston to fire a gun in a crowded area.

Preston told the court, "I'm sorry I had to make this choice," and "I didn't know what else to do. I didn't want to hurt anybody."

Judge Moore said he believes Preston acted out of anger, not fear, when he fired the gun.

Preston is now in custody.