- Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of shooting three people with a semiautomatic rifle during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Two have died.
- Rittenhouse is said to have been among armed civilians, including some militia members, who travelled to Kenosha to protect businesses among unrest. He was charged with first-degree homicide.
- The police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday has prompted several nights of unrest throughout the city.
- At a press conference on Wednesday, local officials didn’t name Rittenhouse, but the police chief said the shooting wouldn’t have happened if people obeyed curfew.
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A 17-year-old white teen from Illinois has been identified as the suspect in shootings that left two people dead and another injured during Tuesday evening’s unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested in Illinois on Wednesday on a first-degree homicide charge, The New York Times and USA Today first reported.
At a Wednesday press conference, Kenosha city and police officials didn’t name Rittenhouse or the victims. Instead, they blamed everyone who was out past the 8 p.m. curfew for the violence.
“Last night, in a situation that began peaceful and turned somewhat unruly … persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance and persons were shot,” Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said. “Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened.”
— Eyewitness News WTVO/WQRF (@MyStateline) August 26, 2020
Evenings in the small city of Kenosha have been chaotic since the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday.
Organised protests, and unorganized instances of violence, have taken over the city at night, with people burning cars, businesses, and other property.
Rittenhouse is under the legal age to openly carry firearms, but numerous videos appears to show him among the small groups of armed civilians who took it upon themselves to defend the town’s businesses.
In one graphic video from the scene, a gunman thought to be Rittenhouse is shown running through a crowd of people in a street. One person appears to yell “That guy shot someone.” He trips and falls and, as several people move close to him, he’s seen opening fire.
A crowd chases a suspected shooter down in Kenosha. He trips and falls, then turns with the gun and fires several times. Shots can be heard fired elsewhere as well, corroborating reports of multiple shooters tonight #Kenosha #KenoshaRiots pic.twitter.com/qqsYWmngFW
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) August 26, 2020
Directly following the shooting, a group of police vehicles advances on the crowd. The gunman walks toward them and can be seen alternately putting his hands up and touching his gun. As he approaches, the vehicles drive away and the gunman gives them a slight wave.
A 26-year-old Silver Lake resident and a 36-year-old Kenosha resident were killed in the shootings. A 26-year-old West Alice resident was injured, Miskinis said at the press conference.
Rittenhouse aspired to be a police officer
Web sleuths tracked down Rittenhouse using videos from the scene and social media hours before he was announced as a suspect in the shooting.
Rittenhouse had idolized the police and had participated in programs aimed toward youth who aspire to work in law enforcement.
Miskinis stopped short of criticising the teen accused of crossing state lines and firing the gun. He said he didn’t have details on the shooting, or the shooter’s motive, to release.
“A 17-year-old from Antioch, Il., was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict that was in place,” he said. “What I can’t tell you is what led to the disturbance, what led to the use of deadly force by this person, and if both deaths are related to the same person.”
Kenosha County Sheriff Dan Beth said Wednesday that the violence was an example of why he didn’t want to encourage civilians to take up arms on behalf of law enforcement.
“Yesterday I have a person call me and say, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens who have guns to come out and patrol the city of Kenosha,'” Beth said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh hell no.”
He added that Tuesday evening’s shooting supported his point. “That would have been one deputy sheriff who killed two people and the liability that goes with that would have been immense,” he said.
Armed civilians aren’t helping keep the city safe, officials say
While the armed civilians might not have been working for the city, videos taken at the protests Tuesday showed law enforcement thanking them for being on city streets. In one video, officers offered water to some of them.
Reporters pressed city officials to say whether they wanted these civilians in the city working on their behalf.
“I don’t want violence regardless of which side of any issue you’re on, so showing up with firearms doesn’t do us any good,” Miskinis said. “It’s no different than those on the protesters’ side who are walking around armed, or those who are counterprotesters, or those who are just witnessing.”
Mayor John Antaramian made a similar comment.
“No, I don’t need more guns on the street in the community when we are trying to make sure that we keep people safe,” he said. “Law enforcement is trained. They’re the ones who are responsible. They’re the ones we have faith in that they will do their jobs.”
- Read more:
- Kyle Rittenhouse – the teen charged with murder after shooting 3 Kenosha protesters with an AR-15 – was obsessed with Blue Lives Matter
- Chaos will continue in Kenosha until the cop who shot Jacob Blake is fired or arrested, local Black Lives Matter activists worry
- 3 people were shot, and 2 are dead, after protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, clashed with armed civilians
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