Kenosha, WI – The Kenosha County sheriff said Wednesday that the 17 year old who fatally shot two people during the riot on Tuesday night was with a group of militia members that had asked to be deputized.
“Yesterday I had a person call me and say, ‘Why don’t you deputize citizens who have guns to come out and patrol the city of Kenosha?” Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 26, according to the New York Post. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ What happened last night is the perfect reason why I wouldn’t.”
Sheriff Beth said Illinois teen Kyle Rittenhouse was “part of this group that wanted me to deputized them.”
“As part of the county of Kenosha, that would’ve been, in reality, that would’ve been one deputy sheriff who killed two people, and the liability that goes with would’ve been immense,” the sheriff explained.
Rittenhouse, 17, went to Kenosha on Aug. 25 in response to a call for help on Facebook from a militia group who called itself the Kenosha Guard, WMAQ reported.
“Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend [our] City tonight from the evil thugs?” the group asked.
Then the Kenosha Guard posted a message to Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis that said they had 3,000 people mobilizing to help protect the city, WMAQ reported.
“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,” the message read. “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.”
In a video interview with the Daily Caller in Kenosha just hours before the shooting, Rittenhouse explained why he was with a group of armed, older men protecting businesses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“People are getting injured and our job is to protect this business,” the teenager explained in the interview. “And my job also is to protect people. If someone is hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle; I’ve gotta’ protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit.”
Cell phone videos posted to social media showed what happened at about 11:45 p.m. on Aug. 26 that left two people dead and a third person seriously wounded.
The teen identified as Rittenhouse could be seen in his green shirt carrying a semi-automatic rifle in several of the videos filmed through the night.
Some reports have claimed that Rittenhouse was leaving the area when rioters chased him.
In one video, rioters were attacking him with a skateboard before he opened fire on them.
Several witnesses told Heavy that Rittenhouse was running down the street screaming that he wasn’t the shooter as people chased him.
They said he was struck by someone with a skateboard and fell to the ground with the gun firing.
Extended footage of the shooting in Kenosha. pic.twitter.com/oBG6UgT0Fs
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 26, 2020
Those witnesses told Heavy that the first shooter was a white man in a helmet and bullet-proof vest who got into an argument with Black Lives Matter activists who had started fires in the area.
They said Rittenhouse wasn’t the same person.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said authorities did not yet know if there was more than one person shooting in the crowd, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
After the shootings, videos showed Rittenhouse walked toward armored police vehicles with his weapon slung over his shoulder but the officers waved him away as they attempted to respond to reports of a shooting.
Lake County, Illinois Clerk of Courts records showed that Antioch police arrested the 17-year-old Rittenhouse at his home after he was charged with first-degree murder and labeled a “fugitive from justice,” the Independent reported.
“(The suspect) fled the state of Wisconsin with the intent to avoid prosecution for that offence,” according to charging documents.
Rittenhouse is facing at least two counts of “first-degree intentional homicide” in connection with incidents that occurred during the third night of riots over the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake by the Kenosha police, the Independent reported.
The Kenosha Guard posted a statement that disavowed any connection to Rittenhouse, the New York Post reported.
“We are unaware if the armed citizen was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia’s call to arms,” the group posted to Facebook. “Just like with the shooting of Jacob Blake, we need all the facts and evidence to come out before we make a judgment. God Bless and stay safe Kenosha!”