Kyle Rittenhouse spoke publicly in his first interview since he was arrested and charged for shooting three protesters, two of them fatally, during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the summer.
In a phone interview with the Washington Post, Rittenhouse revealed the gun he used in the shooting was purchased using money he received from an unemployment check during the coronavirus pandemic. Rittenhouse, 17, could not legally purchase the weapon himself, so he gave the money to a friend to buy it for him, according to both Rittenhouse and police reports.
"I got my $1,200 from the coronavirus Illinois unemployment, because I was on furlough from YMCA, and I got my first unemployment check so I was like, 'Oh I'll use this to buy it,'" he told the Post.
Prosecutors have charged a Wisconsin man with supplying the gun.
Online court records show prosecutors in Kenosha charged 19-year-old Dominick Black on Nov. 3 with two felony counts of supplying a dangerous weapon to a minor causing death. Black, who was 18 at the time of the purchase, told authorities that he purchased the weapon at a hardware store in Wisconsin. He could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on both counts.
According to Antioch police reports, Black's stepfather said Black bought the gun for Rittenhouse in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, using Rittenhouse's money but put the gun in his own name.
Black told investigators that Rittenhouse's mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, had been planning to apply for a firearm owner's identification card in Illinois so they could legally keep the weapon in Antioch.
The Kenosha News reported that a criminal complaint alleges Black asked Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, to help him guard businesses in Kenosha from protesters the night of Aug. 25. Demonstrators converged on the city for several nights after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back seven times during a domestic dispute. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
Black told police that when they went to his stepfather's house he was concerned about Rittenhouse having the gun because he wasn't 18, but if he told Rittenhouse he couldn't have it Rittenhouse “would have thrown a fit,” the reports said.
In his interview, Rittenhouse said he doesn't regret having a gun that night, saying "I had to protect myself."
"I would have died that night if I didn’t," he said.
Black and Rittenhouse went to Black's stepfather's house to get an assault-style rifle that Rittenhouse could use that night, the complaint said. Wisconsin law prohibits minors from carrying or possessing firearms unless they're hunting.
The complaint alleges that Rittenhouse used the rifle to fatally shoot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wound a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse has been charged with multiple counts, including intentional homicide and illegally possessing a gun. His attorneys contend he was acting in self-defense. The case has been a rallying point for conservatives upset with property destruction during protests across the country this year.
Rittenhouse turned himself in to police in Antioch the morning after the shootings. He was later extradited to Wisconsin and his bail was set at $2 million.
Black's attorney, Robert Keller, didn't immediately return a message left at his office after his first court appearance earlier this month.