Amid violent Black Lives Matter riots and arson in Kenosha, Wisc., on Tuesday night, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire at looters in two separate instances, killing two people and injuring a third. Police arrested Rittenhouse on Wednesday after cops apparently congratulated him on Tuesday night. Early reports suggest Rittenhouse shot one man in the head while the victim was looting a car shop, but his second shooting appeared to involve self-defense after looters threw a Molotov cocktail at him.
Rittenhouse came from Antioch, Ill., which is only 15 miles away from Kenosha, the Associated Press reported. Authorities arrested him on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide.
Blaze TV’s Elijah Schaffer reported the first shooting, showing footage of the aftermath. It seems Rittenhouse shot a white man in the head while the victim was looting a car shop.
Shaffer later explained that in the minutes before the shooting, rioters used drones and bats to destroy vehicles, and lit multiple cars on fire. Ironically, one of the rioters operated the shop and he tried to stop his Black Lives Matter allies from destroying his property.
Shaffer also noted that “the alleged shooter was defending the property.”
This context does not excuse what appears to have been a vigilante assassination.
However, the second shooting appears to have involved self-defense. Townhall’s Julio Rosas reported seeing a Black Lives Matter mob chasing Rittenhouse. After Rittenhouse tripped and fell, the rioters shouted, “Get his *ss!” Then the man appears to have shot one of the rioters in self-defense.
Videos from other angles also suggest Rittenhouse fired the second round of shots in self-defense.
Wisconsin law does allow for violence in self-defense.
Rittenhouse also spoke with Schaffer earlier in the night, explaining that he went to Kenosha to defend property.
Rittenhouse works as a lifeguard at a YMCA in Illinois. He has used his Facebook page to support the Blue Lives Matter movement.
In the seeming absence of police during the riots, armed citizens have taken up the cause of defending property and limiting the violence of the rioters. Before these shootings, rioters harassed armed citizens who attempted to defend local businesses.
Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wisc.), who has championed the Black Lives Matter cause and condemned the police shooting of Jacob Blake which incited the Kenosha riots, expressed sympathy for the families of the victims and condemned violence against people — but not the violence against property that rioters have wreaked for the past few nights. He did request that protesters make their voices heard peacefully, however.
“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,” Evers tweeted. “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.”
The violent riots and arson in Kenosha are terrifying, and it makes sense that citizens would arm themselves to curb the destruction. That does not justify Rittenhouse’s first shooting, however. Police arguably should have arrested the man right after the shootings.
Instead, they reportedly allowed him to go home. That does not suggest inherent racism, as some on the Left have claimed. The cops may have a bias in favor of a vigilante trying to stop the rioting over the rioters themselves. Even so, they should have arrested Rittenhouse after the shootings.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.