Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year-old from Illinois, was captured on video seconds after the first of two fatal shootings Tuesday during the third straight night of unrest in Kenosha over the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake. Still, questions remain surrounding Rittenhouse's presence at the protests and the moments leading up the gunfire.
In a video on social media, Rittenhouse, seen carrying a semi-automatic rifle, appears to say he "just killed somebody" while jogging away from a man who had just been fatally shot in the head.
Rittenhouse, of Antioch, faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide, among others, following the shooting, which took place amid turmoil after a Kenosha police officer shot Blake seven times in the back Sunday, potentially paralyzing him. Rittenhouse was taken into custody in Lake County, Illinois, Wednesday and is scheduled for an extradition hearing on Friday. He was officially charged Thursday afternoon.
Rittenhouse was assigned a public defender in Illinois for the hearing on his transfer to Wisconsin. The public defender’s office had no comment. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
As authorities piece together a case against Rittenhouse, new details are beginning to emerge about his life.
Much of Rittenhouse’s Facebook page is devoted to praising law enforcement, with references to the Blue Lives Matter movement, which supports police. He also can be seen holding an assault rifle.
Rittenhouse routinely posted pictures of himself on social media, including photos with the phrase “Blue Lives Matter” featured prominently.
In a photograph posted by his mother, he is wearing what appears to be a blue law enforcement uniform as well as the kind of brimmed hat that state troopers wear.
Another video, posted to a Tik Tok account purportedly run by Rittenhouse, appears to show him sitting in the front row of a rally hosted by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
Still, questions remain over Rittenhouse's presence at Kenosha protests Tuesday evening.
Before the shooting, the conservative website The Daily Caller conducted a video interview with the suspected gunman in front of a boarded-up business.
“So people are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business,” the young man said. “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.”
Video posted to social media later showed shots ringing out in a car lot before a man is discovered with a gunshot wound to the head. In that video, a person appearing to be Rittenhouse can be seen on a phone saying "I just killed somebody" as he jogs away. Details on the moments leading up to that shooting remain unclear.
In a separate scene, a group of protesters can be heard following someone down a street while shouting "Why'd you shoot him?"
Photos: Images Show Traumatic Scene as Gunfire Erupts in Kenosha During Another Night of Unrest
Moments after, video taken by a photographer at a nearby scene showed an armed Rittenhouse sitting on the ground, opening fire at a crowd around him, shooting another man in the arm. A third man is seen lying on the ground before authorities arrive and carry him away.
Photos that also captured the moments leading up to the second shooting scene appeared to show a man kicking Rittenhouse before another man with a skateboard appears to grab at the teen's weapon. The man with the skateboard appears to be the same one lying on the ground not moving in the video.
A witness, Julio Rosas, 24, said that when the gunman stumbled, "two people jumped onto him and there was a struggle for control of his rifle. At that point during the struggle, he just began to fire multiple rounds, and that dispersed people near him.”
“The rifle was being jerked around in all directions while it was being fired,” Rosas said.
The two people killed were identified only as a 26-year-old Silver Lake, Wisconsin, resident and a 36-year-old from Kenosha. The wounded person, a 36-year-old from West Allis, Wisconsin, was expected to survive, police said.
Additional photos from the scene Tuesday night showed what appeared to be multiple citizens armed with weapons as the unrest unfolded. Some stood outside area businesses and others were seen in the streets.
In Wisconsin, it is legal for people 18 and over to openly carry a gun without a license.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth confirmed there were so-called vigilantes or self-proclaimed militia groups on the streets, one of which even asked him to deputize them. It's unclear if Rittenhouse was connected to that group.
"There's no way. There's no way I would deputize people," he said.
But video taken before the shooting shows police tossing bottled water from an armored vehicle to what appear to be armed civilians walking the streets. And one of them appears to be the gunman.
“We appreciate you being here,” an officer is heard saying to the group over a loudspeaker.
Beth argued that "our deputies would have tossed a water to anybody."
A group calling itself the "Kenosha Guard" had earlier posted a call on Facebook asking "Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend [our] City tonight from the evil thugs?"
The same group released a statement Wednesday saying it did not know if Rittenhouse was responding to their call.
"We are unaware if the armed citizen was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia's call to arms," the group wrote on Facebook. "Just like with the shooting of Jacob Blake, we need all the facts and evidence to come out before we make a judgement."
Facebook confirmed Wednesday that it took down the group's page for violating its policy against militia organizations. The company said it also is in the process of removing other accounts and material tied to the shootings that violate its policies, such as for glorifying violence, and it is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the matter.
Facebook also removed Rittenhouse's accounts from Facebook and Instagram.
The company said it had not found evidence on Facebook that suggests the suspected shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or was invited on its Event Page to go to the protests.
Still, in the moments after the shooting, there were reports the gunman walked toward police with his hands in the air, yet he was not arrested.
When asked why he was not arrested in the moment, Beth said he couldn't say for certain, but noted the chaos surrounding officers that night.
"I've been in a shooting before and in situations that are high stress you have such an incredible tunnel vision you have no idea what outside right here," he said.