Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday the shooting that left two people dead and one injured amid unrest in Kenosha the night before was a "senseless tragedy" as he called for protests to remain peaceful and asked anyone not exercising their First Amendment rights to "stay home."
"My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the two individuals who lost their lives and the individual who was injured last night in Kenosha. We as a state are mourning this tragedy. Kathy and I join the people of Wisconsin in offering our condolences to these individuals, their families, and the Kenosha community," Evers said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities said three people were shot, two fatally, late Tuesday in Kenosha as chaos erupted in the city for the third straight night following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
A teenage suspect was taken into custody in Lake County, Illinois, Wednesday in connection with the shooting and is facing first-degree intentional homicide charges, police confirmed.
The suspect was identified as a 17-year-old Antioch resident, who is currently in custody of the Lake County Judicial System pending an extradition hearing to transfer him from Illinois to Wisconsin, according to Antioch police.
"I want to be very clear: we should not tolerate violence against any person. I’m grateful there has already been swift action to arrest one person involved. The individual or individuals whose actions resulted in this tragic loss of life must be held accountable," Evers said Wednesday.
Video posted to social media showed shots ringing out in the street before a man is discovered with a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses are seen carrying that man to a hospital.
In a separate scene, a group of protesters can be heard following a man shouting "Why'd you shoot him?"
Later, video taken by a photographer at a nearby scene showed an armed man sitting on the ground with a crowd around him opening fire, 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 that shooting appeared to show a man kicking the gunman before another man with a skateboard appears to grab the man's weapon. The man with the skateboard appears to be the same one lying on the ground not moving in the video.
"A senseless tragedy like this cannot happen again. I again ask those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights please do so peacefully and safely, as so many did last night," Evers said. "I also ask the individuals who are not there to exercise those rights to please stay home and let local first responders, law enforcement, and members of the Wisconsin National Guard do their jobs."
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said at a news conference Wednesday that he would not deputize any citizens who were not part of law enforcement, though he had been asked to, noting that he believed the suspect in the deadly shooting was "part of this group that wanted me to deputize them."
"There's no way I would deputize people," Beth said. "Part of the problem with this group is they create confrontation, people walking around with guns."
"We must turn from violence and remember that any single act of injustice against one person is less justice for us all," Evers statement continued. "We cannot let the hateful actions of a few designed to create chaos distract us from our pursuit for a more fair, equitable, and accountable state and country for Jacob Blake and the many others who deserve justice. We must work to find strength in each other and our communities to rebuild and move our state forward, together.”
The shooting took place as unrest boiled over in Kenosha for the third consecutive night after officers shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, several times in the back on Sunday in an incident that was captured on video and sparked outrage nationwide.
Police and protesters clashed several times Tuesday night, with officers dressed in tactical gear firing tear gas for the third night in a row at demonstrators who had previously thrown projectiles at law enforcement and attempted to breach newly erected barriers.
Peaceful protests had again taken place during the day on Tuesday, but tensions continued to build as night fell once again. Many protesters remained on the streets near Civic Center Park in downtown Kenosha despite a curfew that went into effect at 8 p.m.
Police eventually declared the gathering to be an unlawful assembly and skirmishes between officers and demonstrators continued into the late evening and early morning hours.
In an effort to quell some of the unrest, Evers had declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, doubling the National Guard presence to 250 soldiers in the city. Additional police have also been called in from other departments in Wisconsin to help enforce the curfew.
Evers quickly condemned the police shooting on Sunday, noting Blake "is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country," and on Tuesday called for a special session of the Wisconsin legislature to take up a package of police reforms as he issued a plea for demonstrations to remain calm.
"Tonight, and in the days ahead, if you are going to protest, please do so peacefully and safely," Evers said Tuesday. "Please do not allow the actions of a few distract us from the work we must do together to demand justice, equity, and accountability.”
The police shooting of Blake began to unfold at around 5:11 p.m. Sunday, when officers responded to a domestic incident in the 2800 block of 40th Street, Kenosha police said in a statement.
Graphic video posted on social media appeared to show officers grab at Blake's shirt and shoot him in the back at least seven times as he leaned into a vehicle. Three officers can be seen in the video, but it's unclear if more than one officer fired shots.
Police did not provide details on what led to the shooting but said the man, later identified at Blake, was taken in serious condition to a hospital in Milwaukee for treatment.
Blake's attorneys said during a news conference on Tuesday that the bullets struck Blake's spinal cord, resulting in the near-complete removal of his colon and small intestine, as well as damaging his kidney and liver.
Blake, according to family and attorneys, was paralyzed by the shooting but it remains unclear if that will be permanent.
Kenosha police said the Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the shooting with the assistance of Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office.
Kenosha police added that the officers involved were placed on administrative leave as authorities investigate, noting that the Wisconsin DOJ's aim is to provide a report of the incident to a prosecutor within 30 days, at which point the prosecutor would make a determination about what charges, if any, are appropriate.
Blake's family and attorneys described him as a family man whose three sons were in the car at the time of the shooting, one of whom was celebrating a birthday.
"These little boys, these three little boys are going to have psychological problems for the rest of their lives," Crump said during a news conference alongside Blake's mother, father and three sisters. Blake's father added that the children "are stuck right now."
"All my grandson asks is, 'Why did police shoot my daddy in the back?'" said Jacob Blake Sr. "How would you feel if your white son walked up to you and asked, 'Why did police shoot my daddy in the back?' You would have no clue."
Blake's mother on Tuesday issued an impassioned plea for people across the country to "take a moment and examine your heart," saying her son would be "unpleased" by the violence and unrest sparked by his shooting.
"Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians: do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts," Julia Jackson said. "We need healing. As I pray for my son's healing - physically, emotionally and spiritually - I also have been praying even before this for the healing of our country."
"Let's use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other," Jackson said.