Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three people and killing two with an AR-15 .223 rifle during a night of civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which arose after a video of police shooting a Black man named Jacob Blake in the back seven times made its way around the internet. Rittenhouse is 17 years old.
A 17-year-old can’t legally own a firearm in Wisconsin except for hunting purposes and with the permission of a legal guardian, according to the Giffords Law Center. In Illinois, where Rittenhouse lives, people under 21 can only own a gun legally if a parent or guardian who meets the eligibility criteria to own a gun signs off on their child owning a gun.
According to his attorney — a QAnon supporter as is made evident by the hashtag WWG1WGA on his Twitter page bio — Lin Wood, the gun belonged to a friend of Rittenhouse who lives in Wisconsin. Therefore, he had the gun illegally, authorities say. He was charged with the misdemeanor, possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
What’s more, open carry is legal in Wisconsin, but not for minors.
Neither police in Kenosha nor Antioch, Illinois, have responded to Heavy’s requests to verify where the gun came from, or whether there will be charges filed on the person who put it in his hands. The Wisconsin District Attorney’s office said they won’t comment on the open case.
That “dangerous weapon” is also included in the five other charges Rittenhouse faces, including first-degree reckless homicide with a dangerous weapon, first-degree intentional homicide using a dangerous weapon and attempted first-degree homicide using a dangerous weapon.
It was the rifle that Rittenhouse illegally had in his possession that was integral to the scene that unfolded that night — in more ways than being used to kill.
The Men Rittenhouse Shot Were Trying to Get the Rifle Away From Him
According to the complaint, people noticed the baby-faced Rittenhouse walking around with an AR-15 rifle. A reporter named Richard McGinnis was interviewing Rittenhouse before the shootings and told him “that he (McGinnis) has handled many ARs and that the defendant was not handling the weapon very well.”
Not long after that, the first man Rittenhouse is accused of killing came on the scene, throwing a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, according to the complaint. From there a chase ensued with Joseph Rosenbaum in pursuit of Rittenhouse. Once he caught up with him, McGinnis said:
The unarmed guy (Rosenbaum) was trying to get the defendant’s gun. McGinnis demonstrated by extending both of his hands in a quick grabbing motion and did that as a visual on how Rosenbaum tried to reach for the defendant’s gun. Detective Cepress indicates that he asked McGinnis if Rosenbaum had his hands on the gun when the defendant shot. McGinnis said that he definitely made a motion that he was trying to grab the barrel of the gun. McGinnis stated that the defendant pulled it away and then raised it. McGinnis stated that right as they came together, the defendant fired. McGinnis said that when Rosenbaum was shot, he had leaned in (towards the defendant).
Then Rittenhouse runs. At 11:46 p.m. he calls his friend Dominic Black and tells him he shot someone, the complaint says. The streets were crowded and people were yelling to one another to get Rittenhouse because he’d just shot someone. That’s when another man, Anthony Huber, was killed by Rittenhouse while trying to get the rifle away from him, as can be seen in videos of the incident.
According to the complaint:
A second person who was later identified as Anthony Huber approaches the defendant who is still on the ground, on his back. Huber has a skateboard in his right hand. When Huber reaches the defendant it appears that he is reaching for the defendant’s gun with his left hand as the skateboard makes contact with the defendant’s left shoulder. Huber appears to be trying to pull the gun away from the defendant. The defendant rolls towards his left side and as Huber appears to be trying to grab the gun the gun is pointed at Huber’s body. The defendant then fires one round which can be heard on the video. Huber staggers away, taking several steps, then collapses to the ground. Huber subsequently died from this gunshot wound.
Rittenhouse then gets off the ground where he’d fallen and walks then runs toward police with his hands up and the rifle hanging from a strap over his shoulder. Police vehicles ignore him and ignore people yelling that he shot someone. Rittenhouse went home to Antioch that night about 30 miles from Kenosha, according to CNN.
The Kenosha Guard Organizer Said He Doesn’t Regret Calling for Arms but He Does Not Condone a Teenager Being Out That Late & Having a Gun
Rittenhouse told McGinnis in an interview that night before the shootings that he was out to protect businesses and he had his rifle to protect himself in case he had to “run into harm’s way.”
He said, “People are getting injured and our job is to protect this business. 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.”
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Rittenhouse considered himself a member of a militia, and a militia called the Kenosha Guard had put out a “call to arms” saying in a Facebook post, “Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend our City tonight from the evil thugs? No doubt they are currently planning on the next part of the City to burn tonight,” according to the Kenosha News.
That Facebook page has since been taken down, with accusations that it was too little too late as the social media giant is accused of disregarding warnings from users that the page was being used to organize for violence.
Kevin Mathewson is the man who wrote that post on a page he started called the “Kenosha Guard–Armed Citizens to protect our Lives and Property” page on Facebook in June. He told Kenosha News that he doesn’t regret his call to arms, but claims he doesn’t condone the teenage boy being out late and possessing the AR-15 Rifle.
He told Kenosha News, “I have never spoken to Kyle. He had no business being out that late. He had no business being in possession of a firearm.”