The attorneys representing Kyle Rittenhouse, the Antioch 17-year-old charged with the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha, released a statement Friday night, saying the teen "did nothing wrong" and acted in self-defense.
Earlier in the day, a judge agreed to delay for a month a decision on whether Rittenhouse should be returned to Wisconsin to face charges.
Rittenhouse faces five felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
Rittenhouse, a white teen who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle as he walked Kenosha's streets with other armed civilians during this week's protests, would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
According to Pierce Brainbridge, the lawfirm representing the Antioch teen, on the day of the shooting, the 17-year-old worked as a community lifeguard in Kenosha, and later on, he went to the local public high school to remove graffiti.
Many buildings were tagged with graffiti and several were destroyed when unrest ensued in the days following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer.
On Tuesday, according to attorneys, Rittenhouse and a friend received information about a call for help from a local business owner, whose downtown Kenosha auto dealership was largely destroyed and needed help protecting his business. Kyle and the friend armed themselves with rifles and headed to the business.
The attorneys stated that protesters threatened and taunted Rittenhouse several times as he and his friend stood guard at the business. They claim the 17-year-old became concerned about protesters injured in clashes with police, and went to provide first aid, according to NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee.
Rittenhouse eventually made his way toward a second auto shop where he was confronted by protesters, according to a news release.
"Upon the sound of a gunshot behind him, Kyle turned and was immediately faced with an attacker lunging towards him and reaching for his rifle," the attorneys said. "He reacted instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon to protect himself, firing and striking the attacker."
Kyle stopped to ensure care for the wounded person, but faced a "growing mob," according to the lawfirm.
"In fear for his life and concerned the crowd would either continue to shoot at him or even use his own weapon against him, Kyle had no choice but to fire multiple rounds towards his immediate attackers, striking two, including one armed attacker," the statement from the lawfirm added.
The lawyers contend the 17-year-old "exercised his God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense."
"“A 17-year old child should not have to take up arms in America to protect life and property," the statement read. "That is the job of state and local governments. However, those governments have failed, and law-abiding citizens have no choice but to protect their own communities..."