Updated: 8/26/20, 2:28 p.m.: Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, from Antioch, Illinois, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of two people and the injury of a third during a chaotic protest in Kenosha Tuesday night.
Insider reports that Rittenhouse was armed with an AK-47 and had crossed state lines to guard businesses in Kenosha during the unrest. Insider spoke with Kenosha resident Koerri Elijah who was on the scene and said he spotted Rittenhouse before the shooting started.
Around midnight, protesters and some of the militia were gathered together in the area, arguing a bit, but it wasn’t violent, Elijah, who was filming the protests, told Insider.
A young man — who has been since identified as Rittenhouse — was in the area, but didn’t appear to be a part of any organized group. He appeared more erratic and “on edge” than the others, Elijah said.
“I noticed him the entire time. He didn’t seem like he was there with anyone,” he said. “He was armed. He didn’t seem like he was a threat, but I thought maybe I should keep an eye on him.”
Insider also noted that on social media, Rittenhouse idolized police, guns and the Blue Lives Matter movement.
According to USA Today, Rittenhouse will appear for an extradition hearing on Friday and based on Wisconsin law, he will be charged as an adult.
Kenosha, Wis., police are searching for a gunman they say fatally shot two people and wounded a third during a night of volatile protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Protests and chaos erupted in Kenosha the night Blake was shot Sunday and continued through Tuesday. According to officials, things went from bad to worse late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning when a man armed with a long gun turned the scene deadly.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that early Wednesday morning, one of the shooting victims was shot in the head and another in the chest. The third was shot in the arm and ran away from the shooter afterward to seek medical help.
From the Sentinel:
The incident happened on Sheridan Road in the heart of Kenosha near the Froedert South hospital building. Many people were still on the streets in protest just before the shooting, walking up and down Sheridan Road, where protesters had been driven after being expelled from Civic Center Park.
The sounds of gunshots sent people running and looking for places to hide, including behind bushes along the hospital fence line.
Social media footage appears to show at least three people were shot.
A widely shared video shows a man sprinting into a car lot at 63th Street and Sheridan Road, carrying a long gun. Someone pursuing him appears to throw something toward him. Multiple gunshots are heard.
According to Beth, it’s unclear whether there was only one gunman or multiple. One video shows a man with a long gun running down the street while people chased after him shouting that he shot someone. At one point, the man wielding the gun is seen falling to the ground and shooting at people who appear to be trying to disarm him. According to the Sentinel, that’s when two of the shooting victims were hit in the chest and arm. The gunman was also recorded heading toward several police officers in tactical vehicles with his arms raised. The tactical vehicles reportedly drove right by him.
Some on social media have speculated that the man with the long gun was part of a self-proclaimed militia that had been patrolling the streets in recent nights, but that hasn’t been confirmed by authorities.
More from the Sentinel:
“They’re a militia,” Beth said. “They’re like a vigilante group.”
On Tuesday, a group calling itself the Kenosha Guard, asked members and followers on Facebook to come downtown and be prepared to defend the city.
One post read: “Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend out (sic) City tonight from the evil thugs? Nondoubt (sic) they are currently planning on the next part of the City to burn tonight!”
A later post, aimed at the Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis, read, in part:
“I ask that you do NOT have your officers tell us to go home under threat of arrest as you have done in the past. We are willing to talk to KPD and open a discussion. It is evident, that no matter how many Officers, deputies, and other law enforcement officers that are here, you will still be outnumbered.”
A Journal Sentinel reporter earlier in the evening observed a group of armed men with long guns standing guard at a dry cleaning business on Sheridan Road near 59th Street, some on the roof.
Police told them to get off the roof and a person shouted back: “Officer, this is our business.” Police did not ultimately order them off the roof.
According to Beth, a Kenosha resident approached him before the shooting started to suggest that he deputize citizens to help with the civil unrest. Fortunately, Beth had more sense than that and he refused the request.
“I said, ‘There’s no way I’m doing that,’” Beth told the Sentinel.
While authorities have no interest in the assistance of a bunch of zealous vigilantes, they are asking that any citizens with information on the shooter or shooters come forward.
Officials asked that anyone who witnessed the shootings contact the Kenosha Police Department Detective Bureau at 262-605-5203. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can contact Kenosha Area Crime Stoppers at 262-656-7333. Police are also asking for videos and photos of the incident that have not already been circulated on social media.
In an interview earlier on Tuesday with CNN’s Don Lemon, Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson—who spoke out Tuesday against the violence in the wake of Blakes shooting—talked about her son’s recovery and how the family is handling what happened to him.
“I do have a portion of peace from God, but it is still very difficult,” Jackson said.
Lemon mentioned that the last public update on Blake’s condition is that he’s paralyzed from the waist down. He asked Jackson about any further updates and she said that Blake is currently in surgery and it’s expected to be “a long one” but Blake is “handling the surgery well.”
Jackson said when she saw Blake at the hospital he “just looked at me and kind of cried saying, ‘Mom, I’m sorry, I’m sorry’” to which she replied “What are you sorry for? Did you shoot yourself in the back?”
We’ll update this story as new details emerge.