KENOSHA, Wis. — A criminal complaint filed Thursday in Wisconsin lays out in detail the timeline and actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing two men and seriously wounding a third during protests following the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
The teen, who went to Kenosha the night of Aug. 25 armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, is accused of killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, also 26.
Editor’s note: The following story, images and videos contain graphic details and imagery that may be disturbing to some readers.
Rosenbaum was shot multiple times, including “a gunshot wound to the right groin, which fractured his pelvis; a gunshot wound to the back, which perforated his right lung and liver; a gunshot wound to the left hand; a superficial gunshot wound to his lateral left thigh; and a graze gunshot wound to the right side of his forehead,” the complaint states.
Huber had a single gunshot wound to the chest, which perforated his heart, aorta, pulmonary artery and right lung.
One of the reckless endangerment charges stems from the threat to Richard McGinnis, a Daily Caller reporter who, earlier in the night, had interviewed Rittenhouse about why he was in Kenosha.
In video of that interview, Rittenhouse stands in front of a boarded-up building that McGinnis acknowledges was set on fire the night before.
Rittenhouse, who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds, is clad in a green T-shirt and a light-colored baseball cap worn backward. On his hands are blue surgical gloves, which he appeared to be wearing earlier in the day as he helped to clean graffiti from the exterior of a school near the Kenosha County Courthouse.
Across his right shoulder in the video is slung what court documents identified as a Smith & Wesson AR-15-style .222 rifle. Its magazine holds 30 rounds of ammunition.
McGinnis asks Rittenhouse why he is at the protest.
“So, people are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business,” Rittenhouse says, gesturing to the building behind him. “Part of my job is also to help people. If there is somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way.
“That’s why I have my rifle, because I have to protect myself, obviously. I also have my med kit.”
McGinnis later told investigators that Rittenhouse was joined after the interview by another armed man who told the reporter he was there to protect Rittenhouse. The two men appear to be walking together down Sheridan Road in a widely publicized photo from that night.
In extended footage from the Daily Caller, Rittenhouse claims he is a certified emergency medical technician. Cellphone footage from that night also shows the teen telling people he is an EMT.
According to requirements listed on the Chicago government’s website, a person must be at least 18 to get even the most basic EMT license. In addition, the Antioch Fire Department told ABC Chicago that while Rittenhouse was a fire cadet and a member of the Grayslake and Lindenhurst Law Enforcement Explorer Program, he had been with the explorer program less than a year.
Explorer programs give teens and preteens an inside look at law enforcement careers.
McGinnis, who said he had handled several AR rifles over the years, told investigators Rittenhouse was “not handling the weapon very well,” the criminal complaint states.
In one portion of the Daily Caller footage, Rittenhouse is calling out, “Medical! Medical!” for anyone who needs medical attention. An unidentified Black man standing nearby calls him on the fact that earlier in the evening, Rittenhouse allegedly pointed his rifle and the man, demanding he get away from a car in the area.
Rosenbaum was shot and killed in the parking lot of a used car dealership.
An in-depth profile of Rittenhouse by USA Today indicates the teen considers himself to be part of a militia. According to the Verge, a technology news publication, Rittenhouse appears to have answered the call of the Kenosha Guard, a self-proclaimed militia group that issued a “call to arms” on Facebook.
Multiple Facebook users said they reported the Kenosha Guard account prior to the shootings, citing the account for inciting violence. The Verge reported that each time, Facebook moderators found the posts did not violate the social media platform’s policies.
The Facebook page for the group was taken down only after Rosenbaum and Huber were dead, the publication reported.
Rittenhouse also idolizes the police, leading to his stint as a police explorer, USA Today reported.
The criminal complaint against Rittenhouse, authored by Deputy Kenosha County District Attorney Carli McNeill, indicates that the area of Kenosha County east of Interstate 94 was under an 8 p.m. curfew due to the civil unrest following the Blake shooting two days earlier.
Blake, who had reportedly been trying to resolve a domestic dispute between two women, was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer as he tried to get into his vehicle, where his three children awaited him. His family has since said he was left partially paralyzed.
The first shooting involving Rittenhouse took place around 11:45 p.m., according to court records. Witnesses told USA Today the trouble began much earlier, after the Kenosha Guard showed up.
Though some of the armed men vowed to protect the protesters, many of the demonstrators told the newspaper they still were afraid of trouble. One man, identified only by his first name, Jeremiah, told the paper a man with a weapon shoved him as he got into a heated exchange with a female militia member.
“Be ready,” the man said, according to Jeremiah. “If you come toward us, we’re gonna open fire.”
A heavy police presence was there that night, witnesses said. There have been allegations that law enforcement officials were cooperating with the Kenosha Guard.
Activist Shaun King posted a video clip on social media in which an apparent member of the militia is heard telling the camera person that police officials had conspired with the group.
“You know what the cops told us today?” the armed man is heard saying. “They were, like, ’We’re gonna push ’em down by you, ‘cause you can deal with them, and then we’re gonna leave.’”
Some of the protesters told USA Today that officers appeared to be doing just that.
“They were pushing us to the area where the alt-right group was at,” Jeremiah told the newspaper. “We were cornered.”
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, who has come under fire for his handling of the unrest, as well as inappropriate comments he made in 2018 about Black shoplifters, has said he did not deputize citizens and would not have done so.
The apparent ease between law enforcement officials and members of the militia was apparent from cellphone video shot that night, however.
Video shot by McGinnis shows that at 11:30 p.m., about 15 minutes before Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum and Huber, a law enforcement official in an armored vehicle gave him water and thanked him for his presence there that night.
Multiple news agencies reported the exchange, which can be seen in the video below from CBS Chicago. Warning: The footage below contains graphic images.
“Hey, thank you guys (unintelligible). You need water? Seriously. (Unintelligible) You need water?” the officer asks, according to USA Today.
“We need water,” Rittenhouse responds.
“We’ll throw you one,” the officer says.
The officer apparently pauses to order someone else to disperse from the area, citing the person’s civilian status. He returns his attention to Rittenhouse.
“We got a couple. We’ve got to save a couple, but we’ll give you a couple,” the officer tells the teen. “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”
A moment later, an officer is heard over a loudspeaker.
“You’re going to have to get out of there. This is the last warning,” the officer announces. “You’re going to have to move south or you’re going to have to get out of this block. This is the last warning. You will disperse.”
Another witness, identified as Marimackenzie, told USA Today that she and Grosskreutz, a licensed paramedic, had spent the evening treating people struck by rubber bullets or bombed with tear gas.
Amid their work, they’d encountered another young man who said that, he too, was a medic. Marimackenzie didn’t recognize him and the AR-15 slung across his shoulder made her nervous.
Grosskreutz was also uneasy.
“Avoid that guy,” he told Marimackenzie, according to her interview with the newspaper. “He looks like bad news.”
Marimackenzie later learned that the armed man was Rittenhouse.
About 10 minutes after their encounter with the gunman, Marimackenzie heard two men yelling at one another. Then shots rang out, and a man, identified as Rosenbaum, fell to the ground.
The lead-up to violence
Jeremiah told USA Today he was trying to get to his car when he came across Rittenhouse, who was among a group of armed men in the parking lot of Car Source, a used car dealership across the street from Froedtert South Kenosha Medical Center.
Unprompted, Rittenhouse aimed his rifle at the 24-year-old Black man. He began shouting at Jeremiah, who shouted back.
“I’m trying to get out of here. If you’re gonna shoot me, just shoot!” Jeremiah said.
Rittenhouse didn’t fire. A few moments later, however, Jeremiah saw him point the gun at someone else.
This time, Rittenhouse did shoot, he said.
McGinnis recalled for investigators the moment when Rosenbaum and Rittenhouse met up on the sidewalk off Sheridan Road. He said Rosenbaum appeared to be trying to engage the armed teen.
Rosenbaum and other protesters appeared to be moving toward Rittenhouse, the reporter said. Rittenhouse appeared to be trying to evade the men.
“The defendant can clearly be seen holding a long gun,” McNeill wrote. “Following the defendant is Rosenbaum and trailing behind the defendant and Rosenbaum is a male who was later identified as Richard McGinnis, a reporter.”
As the men all cross the Car Source parking lot, Rosenbaum is seen throwing something at the fleeing gunman. It does not hit Rittenhouse.
A second video shows that the item was a plastic bag, the complaint states.
“Rosenbaum appears to be unarmed for the duration of this video,” McNeill wrote. “A review of the second video shows that the defendant and Rosenbaum continue to move across the parking lot and approach and approach the front of a black car parked in the lot.”
McNeill wrote that a loud bang, an apparent gunshot, is then heard, followed by a male voice shouting, “(Expletive) you!”
Rosenbaum approaches Rittenhouse and four more shots are heard. Rosenbaum falls to the ground.
“McGinnis stated he did not hear the two exchange any words,” the criminal complaint states. “McGinnis said that the unarmed guy (Rosenbaum) was trying to get the defendant’s gun.”
Read the criminal complaint against Kyle Rittenhouse below.
Rosenbaum was unsuccessful, and Rittenhouse pulled it away, raised it and fired.
McGinnis told investigators that after Rittenhouse fired the volley of shots, he felt something on his leg and initially believed he might have been hit. According to McNeill, the reporter was behind Rosenbaum and in the line of fire when the shooting took place.
“The defendant then circles behind the black car and approaches Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum remains on the ground,” the complaint states. “McGinnis also approaches, removes his shirt and attempts to render aid to Rosenbaum.”
In video from the Daily Caller, Rittenhouse is seen hovering above Rosenbaum as he lay dying on the pavement. As a man takes off his shirt to aid the injured man, Rittenhouse runs away.
A fleeing Rittenhouse is seen getting on his cellphone.
“As the defendant is running away, he can be heard saying on the phone, ‘I just killed somebody,’” the document says.
Watch extended video from the Daily Caller below. Warning: The video contains extremely graphic imagery.
McNeill wrote that the phone call, placed at 11:46 p.m., was to Dominic Black, a friend of Rittenhouse’s. Black confirmed what Rittenhouse is heard saying in the video.
McGinnis, who was still trying to help the mortally wounded Rosenbaum, told police he heard additional gunshots soon after Rittenhouse ran away.
Rosenbaum was hoisted into a nearby hospital van and rushed across the parking lot to the hospital’s back entrance, but Marimackenzie told USA Today his open eyes were fixed. The Daily Caller footage shows frantic demonstrators carrying Rosenbaum’s limp body across the street to the hospital.
Marimackenzie, Grosskreutz and Jeremiah all reported seeing Rittenhouse flee from the spot of the shooting. Jeremiah told USA Today that Rittenhouse seemed scared.
“He knew he messed up,” Jeremiah said. “He panicked. Even his people knew what he did was wrong. They were all shouting at him, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ I saw it in their faces. I saw it in their body language.”
McNeill described in the criminal complaint two additional videos that show Rittenhouse running northbound on Sheridan Road. The street and sidewalk are full of people, including a group of people trying to stop the fleeing gunman.
Video obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows what took place in seconds as bystanders run after Rittenhouse.
Watch the video below. Warning: The video contains extremely graphic imagery.
“Get him! Get that dude!” one person is heard shouting.
Others shout that Rittenhouse shot someone. One man takes a swing at the teen, knocking his hat off. Rittenhouse trips and falls to the street.
As he lies on the ground, an unidentified man tries to subdue him, the court document states. Rittenhouse fires two shots at the man but misses.
“A second person who was later identified as Anthony Huber approaches the defendant, who is still on the ground, on his back,” McNeill wrote. “Huber has a skateboard in his right hand.”
In the video footage, as well as still images that have turned up online, Huber swings the skateboard at Rittenhouse with one hand while he uses his other hand to reach for the rifle.
“Huber appears to be trying to pull the gun away from the defendant,” the complaint states. “The defendant rolls toward his left side, and as Huber appears to be trying to grab the gun, the gun is pointed at Huber’s body.
“The defendant then fires one round, which can be heard on the video. Huber staggers away, taking several steps, then collapses to the ground.”
One image also captured the moment after Huber was fatally shot. In the photo, as Huber holds his chest, Rittenhouse points his weapon at Grosskreutz, who has his hands in the air.
In Grosskreutz’s right hand is a handgun, though it does not appear to be pointed directly at Rittenhouse.
“Grosskreutz then moves toward the defendant, who aims his gun at Grosskreutz and shoots him, firing one shot,” the complaint states. “Grosskreutz then runs southbound away from the defendant, screaming for a medic.”
Rittenhouse gets up and continues walking northbound. He turns around and, facing those behind him, walks backward while keeping his rifle in a ready position. When he realizes he’s no longer being followed, he turns around and continues walking away from the carnage.
Though McNeill’s affidavit does not address it, the videos shot by bystanders show Rittenhouse walking, his hands in the air as if in surrender, toward police vehicles parked down the street, their lights flashing. Despite the gunfire, he is seen walking past the vehicles and out of sight.
“Everyone was yelling, ‘That’s the shooter!’” Jeremiah told USA Today. “And the police just let him pass.”
Beth has said that the officers in the squad cars and armored vehicles likely did not understand the shouts due to the chaos of the moment, the newspaper said.
Rittenhouse returned to Antioch, where his attorney said he went to police the next day and turned himself in. The teen is being represented by John Pierce, of Pierce Bainbridge, a firm that, according to The New York Times, represented Rudy Giuliani during the probe into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine.
Pierce said in a statement last week that Rittenhouse, who he said spent the day working as a community lifeguard at a Kenosha pool, acted in self-defense after going to the protest area to help protect a business destroyed the night before.
Pierce said police officers maneuvered protesters toward the business, where his client was “verbally threatened and taunted multiple times as the rioters passed by” but never reacted.
“His intent was not to incite violence but simply to deter property damage and use his training to provide first aid to injured community members,” Pierce said.
Pierce alleged that Rittenhouse was providing first aid to injured protesters at a nearby gas station before heading to another business in need of protection. As he headed that way, the attorney said, he was “accosted by multiple rioters.”
Outraged that Rittenhouse was attempting to protect a business they wanted to destroy, he said, they “created a mob now determined to hurt Kyle.”
Pierce said Rittenhouse shot both Rosenbaum and Huber in self-defense out of fear for his own life.
“Kyle did nothing wrong,” Pierce said. “He exercised his God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense.”