An American teenager is to face a judge after being charged with the deaths of two men during protests over the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake.
Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lakes, during protests in Kenosha against racism and police brutality on Tuesday night.
The 17-year-old is also accused of the attempted killing of Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis, northwest of Kenosha, who is recovering after surgery.
Rittenhouse is facing five felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
The white teenager was arrested the day after the shootings at his mother’s home in Antioch, Illinois and now faces a mandatory life sentence as anyone 17 or over is treated as an adult in Wisconsin.
He was armed during the protest with a semi-automatic rifle as he walked the streets with other armed civilians at the protests in a state where people 18 and over can legally carry a gun without a licence.
Trump, the police and guns
The teenager’s social media profiles show he has had a fascination with the police for years, with posts honouring officers killed on duty and supporting the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ campaign, which is often in opposition to the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Grayslake Police Department in Illinois said he is a former member of a local police cadet programme and he is pictured in full police uniform.
Guns also appear on his pages, with photos of him posing with weapons, assembling an assault rifle and practising target shooting.
He also appears to be a Donald Trump supporter, with video showing him in the front row at a rally for the president’s re-election campaign, while his Instagram profile read “Trump 2020”.
How did he get involved in the Kenosha protests?
Multiple threads on Facebook and Reddit were urging militias and other armed people to head to the protests, researchers at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab said on Wednesday.
A video director for the conservative website The Daily Caller, said he interviewed Rittenhouse before the shooting.
The journalist posted a clip in which the armed young man, standing in front of a boarded-up car dealership in Kenosha, said: “Our job is to protect this business.
“And part of my job is to also help people.
“If there is somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle – because I can protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit.”
What happened during the protests?
Questions have been raised after video footage showed, and witnesses said, that Rittenhouse walked past officers and left the scene with a rifle over his shoulder and his hands in the air as members of the public shouted he had shot people and called for his arrest.
The county sheriff said the scene was very chaotic, while video from before the shooting showed police throwing bottled water out of an armoured vehicle to armed civilians and thanking them – one of them appears to be Rittenhouse.
Prosecutors said Rittenhouse is the armed man in another video who is seen chasing people as he shouted he had just shot someone.
In the video, the man then trips and shoots a man from the ground, who falls and does not get up, then shoots another man.
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes described Rittenhouse as a vigilante accountable to nobody and said the fact he and others came to Kenosha to take matters into their own hands “was completely horrifying”.
Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Lin Wood, said he was acting in self-defence.
“From my standpoint, it’s important that the message be clear to other Americans who are attacked that there will be legal resources available in the event false charges are brought against them.
“Americans should never be deterred from exercising their right of self-defence.”