Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha teenager who was found not guilty of homicide and other charges in Wisconsin, comes from a fractured family.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, was acquitted in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz after a lengthy trial. He argued self-defense, and the jury agreed in all of the shootings.
Rittenhouse is scheduled to give his first post-trial interview to Tucker Carlson of Fox News on November 22, 2021, at 8 PM/ET.
Here’s what you need to know about Kyle Rittenhouse’s family.
1. Who Is Rittenhouse’s Dad?
Michael Rittenhouse is the father of Rittenhouse. Kyle Rittenhouse’s dad has been a much lower key figure than his mom, Wendy Rittenhouse, with whom the then 17-year-old was living when the shootings occurred. Rittenhouse’s dad is also called Mike Rittenhouse, and he was not a figure in the trial or courthouse, unlike Rittenhouse’s mom.
Trial testimony indicated that Rittenhouse’s dad and extended family lived in Kenosha at the time of the shootings.
Mike was a machine operator who struggled with alcohol and drugs and unemployment and was accused of domestic battery against Wendy, but he denied the charges, which were later dismissed, according to The New Yorker, which said Wendy and her kids lived in a homeless shelter for a time.
According to The New Yorker, Mike is now sober and wants to be more connected to his family, but Wendy continued to struggle financially, even being evicted. She is dyslexic and has had health issues, The New Yorker reported, so Kyle, as a teen, worked jobs to help support the family.
2. Rittenhouse’s Mom Has Worked as a Nurse’s Assistant
Wendy Rittenhouse, Rittenhouse’s mom, is single mother who has worked as a nurse’s assistant, Rittenhouse’s mom has defended him in interviews. She was controversially at his side when he was photographed with members of the Proud Boys organization in a Wisconsin bar, but his attorneys say he is not affiliated with that group.
Kyle Rittenhouse was a supporter of police who filled his Facebook page with pictures of guns and law enforcement advocacy.
Rittenhouse’s mother’s Facebook page indicated she works in health care and is a law enforcement supporter. Her name is sometimes given as Wendy Lewis but was given in court as Wendy Rittenhouse. The Washington Post described her as a single mom and nurse’s assistant.
She was a constant presence during her son’s jury trial, breaking down in tears during her son’s testimony.
According to Forbes, she is “a single mother of three,” who says she slept late the day of the shootings “after a 16-hour shift as a nursing assistant.”
3. Rittenhouse, Who Was a Police Supporter & Cadet, Has Two Sisters
A profile in the New Yorker reported that Wendy is divorced from Kyle’s father, Mike Rittenhouse, whom she married in 2000. They had three children, including Faith and McKenzie.
McKenzie came up during the trial because a man she was dating at one time admitted he purchased the weapon for Rittenhouse. That man said he didn’t give Rittenhouse the weapon because he was only 17, but the judge eventually dismissed the weapons charge due to state law wording.
According to The Washington Post, Kyle Rittenhouse was a “high school dropout who viewed law enforcement officers as his personal heroes.” However, the Chicago Tribune reported it wasn’t clear if Rittenhouse attended school. He attended Lakes Community High School in 2017-18 but is no longer enrolled and went to Lake Villa School for one semester in 2017, the newspaper reported.
Photos on Rittenhouse’s mother’s Facebook page show him in what appears to be a police cadet uniform and a firefighter’s uniform. One picture contains the words, “We Back the Blue” and a heart with a thin blue line flag in it.
A now-deleted Facebook post indicates he was part of the Grayslake-Lindenhurst-Hainesville Public Safety Cadet Program in 2017. A photo shows Rittenhouse participating in a program for youths who showed an interest in law enforcement. Heavy has contacted the police department there for comment. The Washington Post reported that he was in a cadet program through the Antioch Fire Department and the Grayslake Police Department and also worked as a YMCA lifeguard.
In 2018, according to the Post, he started a Facebook fundraiser for Humanizing the Badge, a nonprofit to “forge stronger relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”
On a TikTok page, according to The Chicago Tribune, Rittenhouse posted a “video of himself firing a semi-automatic rifle at a target.” It appears to match the rifle he carried when the shootings unfolded.
Screenshots from Rittenhouse’s Facebook page, which has now been deleted, show that his profile picture indicated support for Blue Lives Matter. It showed Rittenhouse holding a large weapon with the words “Blue Lives Matter” in a circle around him. His Facebook cover photo showed him with a large weapon. The photos were filled with law enforcement graphics, some honoring fallen officers and others showing a thin blue line flag.
People saved the screenshots of his page before it was taken down.
A photo from Rittenhouse’s Facebook page showed him in a thin blue line flag shirt as far back as 2018, when he would have been around age 15.
Another old photo showed him in camouflage as a young kid.
One photo showed him wearing a large weapon and American flag slippers.
According to Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post, Kyle Rittenhouse “attempted to join the Marine Corps in January, but was disqualified from serving after discussing his options with recruiters.” The military didn’t release the reason for the disqualification.
4. Kyle’s Dad, Who Was Ordered to Pay Child Support for Kyle & His Two Siblings, Is Not a Former Law Enforcement Officer
Shortly after the shootings, false reports emerged on the Internet that Kyle’s father was a former law enforcement officer. This is not true, according to an assessment of the claim by Politifact.
There is no evidence Michael Rittenhouse was ever a police officer or deputy sheriff.
According to Politifact, “Court records from 2014 show that Kyle Rittenhouse’s, Michael Rittenhouse, was living in Zion, Ill., when he was ordered to pay $85 a week in child support. At the time, he worked for QPS Employment, a firm that provides temporary office workers and other staffing services.”
Insider reported, “In March 2014, Wendy Rittenhouse filed a child support claim against his father, Michael, for him, his now 20-year-old sister and another sibling who turns 17 in December, according to court documents. Michael Rittenhouse is ordered to pay child support until May 31, 2022.” According to Insider.com, Michael Rittenhouse also lived for a time in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
5. Wendy Rittenhouse Told Reporters Her Son Was ‘Not a Monster’ & Criticized Joe Biden
Wendy Rittenhouse criticized Joe Biden for a tweet that connected her son to white supremacy.
“When I saw that I was shocked, I was angry. President Biden don’t know my son whatsoever, and he’s not a White supremacist,” she said to Sean Hannity. “He’s not a racist. And [Biden] did that for the votes. And I was so angry for a while at him and what he did to my son. He defamed him.”
Wendy Rittenhouse sat down for a televised interview in which she defended her son, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
“They need to watch the video,” Wendy Rittenhouse said of the people who criticize her son. “He’s not a monster.”
“The last text I sent Kyle was, ‘Where are you at? Are you okay?’ He said, ‘Yes, I am okay. Doing medic.’ That was at like 11:30 and then I fell asleep,” his mother said. “Then I jolted out of my sleep and knew something was wrong. I knew I had to go find him.”
She continued, “If he didn’t have that gun, he would have been dead,” Wendy Rittenhouse said. “Point-blank. It was all self-defense. I saw it. If I wasn’t his mother, I would have said the same thing – it was self-defense. He was chased by a bunch of mob.”
She added, “People need just to watch a video. And they need to go step by step on it. He didn’t, he didn’t do nothing wrong. He was attacked by a mob. The first guy to the second and to the third guy.”
“The police should have helped the businesses out instead of having a 17-year-old kid helping. The police should have been involved with these people that lost their businesses. They should have stepped up,” Wendy said, according to KBTX3.