Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old boy from Antioch, Illinois, shot three men during a Kenosha riot. The protests in Kenosha escalated after a white police officer named Rusten Sheskey shot and wounded a black man named Jacob Blake. The action was caught on video just months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that set off national protests of the mistreatment of African Americans by the police.
After the Jacob Blake incident, Kenosha experienced widespread looting, arson, and property destruction days after the shooting. The day that Rittenhouse shot the three men were on the third night of the protest.
Rittenhouse faced many charges against him, such as homicide charges and a misdemeanor weapons charge. He was acquitted of all charges against him.
Kyle Rittenhouse had been following the news about the Mr. Blake shooting, which occurred when officers arrived at his apartment due to a domestic complaint and saw Mr. Blake – who was holding a knife – try to climb into an SUV to escape. Officer Sheskey grabbed him and fired into his back.
This immediately sparked riots and protests in Kenosha. On the second night, there was widespread destruction where people would loot and burn down businesses. The destruction prompted people within (and outside) of Kenosha who owned guns. They convened on Facebook and agreed to help protect the city from destruction and help out the police and National Guard members who were outnumbered by the rioters. By the third night, Kyle Rittenhouse had joined the group of armed people who said they were there to protect businesses.
“Part of my job also is to protect people,” Rittenhouse said on the evening of the shootings while in an interview with The Daily Caller. “If someone is hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle; I’ve got to protect myself obviously. But I also have my med kit.”
Wisconsin is an open-carry state, meaning that people are legally allowed to carry firearms in public without a permit unless they are otherwise not allowed to obtain one.
During the hours of the riot, protesters were tossing fireworks and water bottles at police officers. They retaliated with tear gas and rubber bullets, driving the protestors out of Civic Centre Park to Sheridan road. This road was filled with stores, gas stations, churches, and a hospital. By this time, many protestors had left, but some stayed around and were occasionally seen scuffling with police.
A video taken that night showed that Rittenhouse was going around and offering medical assistance to protestors that needed it. Just before midnight, Rittenhouse was chased by a man named Joseph Rosenbaum into a parking lot of a car dealership. Rosenbaum lunged at him, and that’s when Rittenhouse shot him in the head.
“He was chasing me, I was alone, he threatened to kill me earlier that night. I didn’t want to have to shoot him,” Rittenhouse later said in court. “I pointed it at him because he kept running at me and I didn’t want him to chase me [ . . . ] If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people if I would have let him get my gun.”
After he shot Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse was seen being chased by a group of protestors shouting “Why’d you shoot him?” Moments later, video footage showed Rittenhouse being attacked by a man with a skateboard who was swinging at him with it. The other man had a gun in his hand as he approached Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse was then seen firing at two men; killing one and wounding the other. The two men were Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz. Huber was the one who was shot and killed.
Moments after the shooting, Rittenhouse walked toward police with his arms in the air with the full intent of being arrested, and yet he wasn’t.