The suspect in the Kenosha, Wisconsin, fatal shooting is a former member of a youth police cadet program with an affinity for guns, according to police and online profiles.
Antioch, Illinois, police identified the suspect Wednesday as 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
In Grayslake, Illinois — about 10 miles from Antioch and 30 miles from Kenosha — Police Chief Phillip L. Perlini said the suspect in the shooting was a former Public Safety Cadet.
That program is described online as offering youth the opportunity to explore careers in law enforcement. Due to the person’s age and state law, the chief said the department couldn’t comment further.
The teenager was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree intentional homicide, Antioch Police said in a news release. He turned himself in at the Antioch police headquarters, police said.
Rittenhouse remains in custody of the Lake County Judicial System awaiting extradition to Wisconsin, the release said.
He has been charged in a single shooting incident during a night of unrest Tuesday in which two people were killed and a third was seriously injured, Kenosha police said. The shooting came amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man.
The victims in the shooting incident Tuesday night were identified as a 26-year-old from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, and a 36-year-old from Kenosha.
Videos that circulated on social media show a person with a long gun running down a street, followed by a crowd. The individual falls to the ground and appears to begin firing. Several shots are heard.
What his social media shows
Social media accounts believed to belong to the suspect portray a young White man with an affinity for guns who supports “Blue Lives Matter” and President Donald Trump.
A video posted on a Snapchat account believed to belong to the suspect placed him at the scene of protests Tuesday night. The clips show a few seconds of the point of view of someone carrying a long rifle and police announcements can be heard over loudspeakers.
In videos posted to a TikTok account, individuals can be seen taking part in target practice and assembling a long rifle.
Rittenhouse also posted a short video from a Trump rally earlier this year in Des Moines, Iowa, on one of his TikTok accounts. President Trump is not shown in the video.
Departing Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway responded to reports of Rittenhouse’s attendance at a Trump rally, saying that the White House is “not responsible for the private conduct of people who go to rallies.”
Sheriff says he was asked to deputize citizens
In a news conference following the shooting, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said he had received requests from community members to deputize citizens to aid police in responding to the protests.
“What happened last night […] was probably the perfect reason why I wouldn’t,” Beth said. “Once I deputize somebody they fall under the Constitution of the state of Wisconsin.”
The sheriff said deputizing citizens would be a liability to him, the county and the state.
“A group wanted me to deputize people that were carrying guns, this person was carrying a gun,” Beth said, referring to the suspect arrested for the shooting.
“He could have been part of it.”
In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul condemned the violence.
“While the two people who were killed and the person who was injured by gunfire have not yet been identified, we are thinking of their destroyed futures and their friends and families that must live with this overwhelming grief,” the statement said.
He said the community deserved a chance to heal and called for “heavily armed vigilantes, arsonists, and other opportunists” who came to Kenosha to “spur chaos” to leave.
“If those engaging in violence and destruction of property believe they are furthering some broader goal, they are wrong,” Kaul said.
On Rittenhouse’s Facebook profile and TikTok bio there are references to “Blue Lives Matter.”
In a post on December 22, 2018, he said that for his birthday he was asking for donations for a non-profit called, “Humanizing the Badge,” along with a post that said the group sought to “forge stronger relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”