Kyle Rittenhouse, who is he?

Kyle Rittenhouse, who is he?

Kyle Rittenhouse is a United States teenager that shot and killed two men and injured a third in Wisconsin. Despite been a resident of Illinois and under age, he armed himself with a military-style semi-automatic rifle to what he had describe as an intention to protect property during a racially motivated civil unrest in the town of Kenosha, Illinois.

A series of killings of black people and police brutality on minority communities across the United States created an environment of rising tensions across the country. Particularly in this situation, two nights of riots broke out after a black man by the name of Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August of 2020.

By the third night civil unrest, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse fired on three men, killing two and seriously injuring a third.

He was arrested at his mother’s home in Antioch, Illinois, some 30 minutes from Kenosha. A day later he was charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of first-degree reckless homicide.

Videos indicate he spent hours on Tuesday apparently helping patrol the streets. He told journalists it was his “job” to guard buildings and even offer medical assistance to protesters.

Who is he?

Kyle Rittenhouse is a high school dropout who participated in cadet programs with the fire department and police while in was in school.

Kyle Rittenhouse dressed as a fireman and police officer in social media – vivomix

His social media profiles show his support for law enforcement.

A Facebook photo of him was framed with the “Blue Lives Matter” logo – a pro-police movement that has occasionally clashed with Black Lives Matter supporters.

Several of his posts honored police officers killed on duty, and he also posted pictures of himself wearing full police uniform. He is a former member of a local police cadet program, Grayslake Police Department says.

Guns are another of his passions. Photos show him posing with weapons, practising target shooting and assembling a rifle.

After leaving school, he had a few jobs including one as a lifeguard.

What happened that night?

When the protests over Jacob Blake’s shooting became violent, Mr Rittenhouse travelled to the city and armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle, with the intention of protecting property, he said.

Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha Wisconsin riots - vivomix
Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha Wisconsin riots – vivomix

In an interview on the night before the shootings, he echoes police language when telling a journalist why he is armed.

“Part of my job also is to protect people. If someone is hurt, I’m running into harm’s way,” he says.

He was captured on video at different times during that night. At one point, he speaks to police who offer him water.

Later, he was shown being pursued by a group of people, one of whom appeared to fire into the air.

The teenager turns to see where the sound is coming from as another person tries to attack him.

At that point, the teenager appears to shoot the man, later identified as Joseph Rosenbaum. He was unarmed but Mr Rittenhouse said in court that he had tried to grab his gun, testimony corroborated by one of the prosecution’s own witnesses.

Skate board guy attacks Kyle Rittenhouse - vivomix
Skate board guy attacks Kyle Rittenhouse – vivomix

Fleeing momentarily, he finds himself chased by a crowd who had seen him shoot Rosenbaum, before falling to the ground, and firing his gun. One of those hit by the gunfire falls to the ground, fatally injured. He is later named as Anthony Huber. Huber was seen on video swinging his skateboard at Rittenhouse.

Skate board guy shot by Kyle Rittenhouse - vivomix
Skate board guy shot by Kyle Rittenhouse – vivomix

Another person runs away apparently injured. In court, Gaige Grosskreutz acknowledged confronting Rittenhouse with a gun, even pointing it at him, but he denied he ever intended to shoot him.

One of the charges brought against him was possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. It was later dropped when his lawyers successfully argued state law allowed for someone under 18 to possess the firearm. Although some may argue that this was a twist of the law, because the state laws make exception of possession of arm for someone under the age of 18 for certain exceptions that include hunting, military service and target practice.

Dominick Blake was Kyle Rittenhouse’s friend and purchaser of the assault rifle used in the shooting. Dominick who was dating Kyle’s sister, testified in court to have used money that Kyle gave him to purchase the rifle on his behalf. He also stated that they had discuss that Kyle could not have the rifle until after he becomes 18 years-of-age. According to Wisconsin gun law, it is illegal to purchase a firearm with the intention to transfer the weapon to another and falsify documentation in order to purchase a weapon.

Under Wisconsin gun law, a semi-automatic is regulated similar to that of handgun.

Testimony from Dominick Blake leads some to argue that this was in itself an admission of intentional use of mis-information to purchase the rifle illegal.

Out of the events of the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse had also been identified in video where he was seen punching a girl in the back of her head. Allegedly the girl had been in a broid with his sister.

Kyle Rittenhouse seen punching a girl in the back of her head – vivomix

Considering that Kyle Rittenhouse had indicated his intentions was to protect property and was armed with a lethal weapon, some controversy exist in allowing him to plead self-defense. While one can argue lethal force for self-defense in Wisconsin under certain consideration. One cannot intentionally use lethal force to protect property, and use of force to protect property is limited for an individual if the property belongs to them and/or the property is of a third person who is part of the individual’s immediate family or household, and/or the individual is employed by the owner of such property (2015 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations – Crimes — general provisions. 939.49 Defense of property and protection against retail theft.).

There is no indication that the property that he was protecting belong to him or that he had any personal relation with the owners. None the less, arguments and testimony from Kyle Rittenhouse was sufficient for the court to find him found not guilty in all counts.