KENOSHA, Wis. — Prosecutors have charged a 17-year-old from Illinois in the fatal shooting of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the wounding of a third.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley filed the charges against Kyle Rittenhouse Thursday afternoon. The charges include one count of first-degree intentional homicide; one count of first-degree reckless homicide; one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide; two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. All those charges are felonies.
Rittenhouse could face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, the most serious crime in Wisconsin.
The two men who were killed were Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, and Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, about 15 miles west of the city. The wounded person, Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis, about 30 miles northwest of Kenosha, was expected to survive, police said.
New details were released in the criminal complaint as investigators combed through multiple cell phone videos from the scene. Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-15 style rifle.
Authorities say Rosenbaum, who did not appear to be armed, threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse but didn’t hit him.
As Rosenbaum moved toward him. A reporter who witnessed the shooting said Rittenhouse did a “juke” move and started running.
Rosenbaum was trying to grab the gun and he was shot multiple times. Authorities said Rittenhouse was heard on video talking to a friend on his cell phone saying, “I just killed somebody.”
Afterwards with people running after him, he tripped and fell. Huber, who had a skateboard, tried to pull the gun away. Rittenhouse was charged with intentional homicide after prosecutors say he shot Huber in the chest.
He’s also charged with shooting the third man in the arm.
At a press conference, Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes called it completely horrifying.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said the first step to trying to end systematic racism is to introduce police reform bills. On Thursday, he stood next to Barnes and Maj. General Paul Knapp of the Wisconsin National Guard as the Kenosha community met at harbor park downtown to pray, hug, and join in solidarity.
“DCI investigation is ongoing but we don’t need an investigation to know that Blake’s shooting falls in a long and painful pattern of violence and this is a pattern of violence that happens against black lives to often across this country,” Barnes said.
It took the governor four days after the city went up in flames to come to Kenosha — decision some criticized him for.
Evers said he’s been in communication with Blake’s family and had a very strong response when asked by a reporter if was he bothered by the reports that Blake was handcuff to his hospital bed.
“I would have no personal understanding of why that would be necessary. Certainly, he’s paid a horrific price already being shot seven or eight times in the back,” the governor said.
Groups that had taken to Kenosha’s streets with long guns were nowhere to be seen early Thursday following somber protests and no widespread unrest for the first night since the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Marchers were solemn during Wednesday night’s protests in the southeastern Wisconsin city between Milwaukee and Chicago following the chaos of the previous night, when authorities say the 17-year-old killed two demonstrators and wounded a third in shootings largely caught on cellphone video and posted online.
**WARNING: Video above is graphic and some may find the content disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
The attack late Tuesday and the shooting by police Sunday of Blake, a 29-year-old Black father of six who was left paralyzed from the waist down, made Kenosha the latest focal point in the fight against racial injustice that has gripped the country since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the state’s Attorney General released details surrounding the shooting.
In solidarity, Milwaukee Bucks players refused to play their playoff game Wednesday, temporarily halting the NBA season. Three Major League Baseball games were delayed because players refused to take the field and several NFL teams canceled their Thursday practices.
Also Thursday, Wisconsin Lutheran College located about 40 miles from Kenosha said it canceled a planned Saturday commencement speech by Vice President Mike Pence, citing the unrest.
There were no groups patrolling Kenosha’s streets with long guns Wednesday night as there had been during previous nights’ protests. Protesters also stayed away from a courthouse that had been the site of standoffs with law enforcement. Unlike the previous two nights, when dozens of fires were set and businesses were ransacked and destroyed, there was no widespread unrest.
Protesters marched past the intersection where two people were killed Tuesday night, stopping to gather around the spot where one person was shot, and to pray and lay flowers. Daijon Spann said he decided to join the demonstration because one of those killed the night before was a friend.
“I couldn’t take it any more,” he said. “I couldn’t just sit there and watch my friend die.”
Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, about 15 miles from Kenosha, was taken into custody Wednesday in Illinois.
Rittenhouse, who walked the streets with other civilians armed with long guns, was assigned a public defender in Illinois for a hearing Friday on his transfer to Wisconsin. The public defender’s office had no comment. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized the deployment of 500 members of the National Guard to Kenosha, doubling the number of troops in the city of 100,000. Guard troops from Arizona, Michigan and Alabama were coming to Wisconsin to assist, Evers said Thursday. He did not say how many.
In Washington, the Justice Department said it was sending in more than 200 federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The White House said up to 2,000 National Guard troops would be made available. The Justice Department also announced that the U.S. attorney’s office and FBI would conduct a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Blake, in cooperation with Wisconsin state law enforcement agencies.
While the investigation into the shooting of Blake proceeded on one track, Kenosha police faced questions about their interactions with the gunman the night of the killings. According to witness accounts and video footage, police apparently let the gunman walk past them and leave the scene with a rifle over his shoulder and his hands in the air as members of the crowd were yelling for him to be arrested because he had shot people.
As for how the gunman managed to slip away, Sheriff David Beth described a chaotic, high-stress scene, with lots of radio traffic and people screaming, chanting and running — conditions he said can cause “tunnel vision” among law officers.
Video taken before the shooting shows police tossing bottled water from an armored vehicle and thanking armed civilians walking the streets. One of them appears to be the gunman.
Much of Rittenhouse’s Facebook page is devoted to praising law enforcement, with references to Blue Lives Matter, a movement that supports police. In photos posted on his page, which has since been locked down, he also can be seen holding an assault rifle. In a photo posted on his mother’s page, he is wearing what appears to be a blue law enforcement uniform as well as the kind of brimmed hat that state troopers wear.
Blake was shot in the back seven times Sunday as he leaned into his SUV, in which three of his children were seated.
On Wednesday — three days after the shooting — state authorities identified the officer who shot Blake as Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department.
Authorities said Sheskey was among officers who responded to a domestic dispute, though they have not said whether Blake was part of the dispute. Sheskey shot Blake while holding onto his shirt after officers first unsuccessfully used a Taser, the Wisconsin Justice Department said. State agents later recovered a knife from the floor on the driver’s side of the vehicle, the department said. State authorities did not say Blake threatened anyone with the knife.
Ben Crump, the lawyer for Blake’s family, said Tuesday that it would “take a miracle” for Blake to walk again. He called for the arrest of Sheskey and for the others involved to lose their jobs. State officials have announced no charges.