Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old male who shot three protesters and killed two on Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
Official documents from Lake County, Illinois, indicate that the teenager was arrested in Antioch, Illinois, on Wednesday morning after he crossed state lines to shield businesses from any unrest resulting from the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday. Antioch is only 30 minutes southwest of Kenosha.
The shooting occurred amid continued clashes between police and protesters at the park near the Kenosha County courthouse.
New from Kenosha: Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested in Antioch, Ill., today after being charged with 1st degree intentional homicide for the shooting here last night, law enforcement authorities say. City officials in #Kenosha will hold a 1 p.m. press conference.
— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) August 26, 2020
For hours Tuesday night, officers attempted to enforce the 8 p.m. city curfew and were met with a defiant response from protesters hurling small objects including rocks, water bottles, and fireworks. In response, officers responded with less-lethal weapons including tear gas and rubber bullets.
When officers drove the protesters away, violent incidents began to unfold across the city as looters attacked local businesses and smashed police cars and other vehicles.
In the meantime, a militia-like group were outside of a gas station blocks away they were allegedly protecting. Before long, the gas station became a flashpoint for conflict between the militia and protesters, who began arguing with each other.
The arguments eventually resulted in several shots being fired by a “young man carrying a rifle,” according to the Washington Post.
Following an intense and rapid period of research by social media users, the “young man” was quickly identified as Kyle Rittenhouse, an ardent “Blue Lives Matter” supporter.
Two people were shot + killed + another wounded in #Kenosha after a white militia member opened fire during ongoing protests. Shooter identified himself on video as Kyle; seen earlier being given water by riot police who thanked him for being there. Militia promoted on InfoWars. pic.twitter.com/jKW24k6gUU
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) August 26, 2020
In dramatic cellphone video coverage of the incident, Rittenhouse could be seen opening fire in the middle of the street with a long-barrel semi-automatic rifle. During the incident, which occurred just before midnight he could be heard saying “I just killed someone.”
While supporters of Rittenhouse are alleging that the shooting was an act of self-defense, witnesses allege that the gunman was the first to initiate deadly force against the masses of protesters in the area.
The event unfolded in two phases, witness accounts and video, which shows the gunman first shooting somebody in a parking lot before jogging away and stumbling down in the street as angry protesters gave chase. He then fired again on people at point-blank range as the crowd attempted to subdue him. Other images show him being hit with a skateboard by a protester during the struggle for his firearm.
After Rittenhouse stumbled, “two people jumped onto him and there was a struggle for control of his rifle,” witness Julio Rosas told Associated Press. “At that point during the struggle, he just began to fire multiple rounds and that dispersed people near him.”
“The rifle was being jerked around in all directions while it was being fired,” Rosas said.
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
Milwaukee resident Sam Dirks, 22, saw Rittenhouse earlier in the evening when he was ranting and shouting in the direction of protesters.
“He was definitely very agitated,” Dirks said. “He was pacing around, just pointing his gun in general. Not necessarily at anyone specifically.”
Prior to the shooting, Kenosha resident Koerri Elijah also saw Rittenhouse behaving strangely outside of the gas station before the shooting that claimed two lives and injured a third person. Elijah said the young shooter appeared “on edge,” unlike the other militia members.
“I noticed him the entire time. He didn’t seem like he was there with anyone,” Elijah told Insider. “He was armed. He didn’t seem like he was a threat, but I thought maybe I should keep an eye on him.”
After the second shooting, Rittenhouse began nonchalantly walking toward approaching police vehicles while raising his hands in surrender. While the angry crowd yelled that he had shot someone, the officers ignored the pleas to detain him and instead continued their advance to the protesters.
Rittenhouse then fled the state and spent the night as a fugitive until being arrested Wednesday morning.
In footage from earlier in the night that has widely circulated since, police could be seen throwing bottled water to the armed militia that Rittenhouse tagged along with. The teen shooter could also be seen among the militiamen.
“We appreciate you being here,” an officer told the group over a loudspeaker.
Here is your shooter being offered and tossed a bottled water out of a LEO vehicle. “We appreciate you guys being out here.” pic.twitter.com/63NtIOcdK2
— Nap Lajoie (@randomanne) August 26, 2020
However, Sheriff David Beth later hinted in an interview that the event was the predictable outcome of armed civilians taking to the streets to protect private property.
“I’ve had people saying, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens?’” Beth said, according to New York Times. “This is why you don’t deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”
Since the shooting occurred, internet sleuths have discovered social media accounts belonging to Rittenhouse that indicate the teen is an extreme devotee of pro-law enforcement causes and a militant opponent of the movement for racial justice and against police brutality.
According to The Daily Beast, Rittenhouse’s Facebook profile was packed with numerous Blue Lives Matter-style images such as the “thin blue line” flag, as well as pro-police memes and photographs of an AR-15-style rifle similar to the one he used in the Tuesday night shootings.
Information also emerged about Rittenhouse being members of a “Police Explorer” program in Antioch.
The shooter is Kyle Rittenhouse.
He ID’d himself in one of the footage. pic.twitter.com/o6bzL4Azx8
— Alcor Garcia 🌹🔥🏴🚩 (@GarciaAlcor) August 26, 2020
— leafblower zaddy 🌬☂️🏳️🌈 (@abolishICE___) August 26, 2020
On Sunday evening, 29-year-old Black male Jacob Blake was shot several times in the back after Kenosha Police were called over a domestic incident. Blake was paralyzed by the gunfire as he attempted to open his car door while his children were in the back seat of the vehicle.
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