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Illinois Teenager Faces Homicide Charges In Kenosha Shooting

Kyle Rittenhouse Faces Charges For First-Degree Homicide, Fleeing Justice; Illinois Police Say They've Made An Arrest

a man is seen in silhouette holding what appears to be a gun
People stand on the roof of a building as smoke surrounds them Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Kenosha. Angela Major/WPR

Illinois authorities have arrested a 17-year-old in connection with the shooting death of two protesters and injury of a third in Kenosha on Tuesday night.

Kyle Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, was taken into custody Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide, according to a complaint filed in Lake County, Illinois.

Authorities said Rittenhouse, who WBEZ reported had participated in a “youth police cadet” program when he was 15, “fled the state of Wisconsin with the intent to avoid prosecution” in the shootings.

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BuzzFeed News reported that Rittenhouse sat in the front row at a January rally for President Donald Trump’s re-election. In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Rittenhouse “had nothing to do with our campaign.”

“President Trump has repeatedly and consistently condemned all forms of violence and believes we must protect all Americans from chaos and lawlessness,” Murtaugh said.

Antioch is about 15 miles from Kenosha, which has seen three straight nights of unrest since the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake.

On Tuesday, a self-identified militia group called the Kenosha Guard created a Facebook event titled, “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property.” More than 3,000 people RSVP’d on the event page, which has since been taken down.

When asked at an afternoon press conference if he condemned militias’ patrolling the streets, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said no one on the streets carrying guns was helping matters.

“I don’t want violence regardless of which side of any issue you’re on,” he said. “Showing up with firearms doesn’t do us any good.”

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian followed up to specifically criticize armed citizen groups.

“No, I don’t need more guns on the street, in the community, when we are trying to make sure that we keep people safe,” he said.

The mayor, sheriff and police chief all emphasized that the curfew, which has been moved up from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m., is intended to keep people and businesses safe. Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said they will be bringing people into custody for violating curfew.

Miskinis, the police chief, suggested that if people had abided by Tuesday night’s curfew, the two killed and one injured wouldn’t have been shot.

“Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot,” he said. “Everybody involved was out after the curfew — I’m not going to make a great deal of that, but the point is, the curfew’s in place to protect. Had persons not been out involved in violation of that, perhaps the situation that unfolded would not have happened.”

The officials gathered at the press conference said very little about the three people shot Tuesday night except to clarify that their names wouldn’t yet be released. They did list their ages and cities of residence — a 26-year-old from Silver Lake and a 36-year-old Kenosha resident were killed while a 26-year-old West Allis resident was injured and transported to the hospital.

Miskinis said a 17-year-old shooter was “involved in the use of firearms … to resolve whatever conflict was in place,” but didn’t name Rittenhouse or offer any more details on the charges.

A video from overnight protests in Kenosha seemed to show an altercation in a car lot. After the participants ran out of sight, gun shots can be heard. Another video shows protesters chasing down an armed person who fell to the ground and fired his gun at close range.

Armed men were patrolling parts of the city, saying they intended to protect local businesses from damage and looting, beginning early Tuesday evening. Protests began after 6 p.m., and lasted past the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the city.

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