Last week, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot three men – two of which have died – during a riot in Kenosha. The teen is being charged as an adult and faces two counts of first-degree homicide, one count of attempted homicide, recklessly endangering the safety of two other victims and possessing a weapon while under the age of 18.
According to Pierce Bainbridge, the law firm representing Rittenhouse, he was justified in using deadly force because Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian failed to protect the residents in the city. Although Rittenhouse lives 30 minutes away in Antioch, Illinois, he works in Kenosha as a community lifeguard.
Bainbridge stated Rittenhouse decided to help a business owner defend his property from rioters who were threatening it.
"The business owner needed help to protect what he had left of his life’s work, including two nearby mechanic’s shops. Kyle and a friend armed themselves with rifles due to the deadly violence gripping Kenosha and many other American cities, and headed to the business premises," the statement said. "The weapons were in Wisconsin and never crossed state lines."
According to the attorney, police started to clear out the area following the city's 8 p.m. curfew. As the crowd dispersed, many moved towards the shops Rittenhouse was allegedly guarding, where they teased and taunted those protecting the businesses.
"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," the statement said. "After the crowd passed the premises and Kyle believed the threat of further destruction had passed, he became increasingly concerned with the injured protestors and bystanders congregating at a nearby gas station with no immediate access to medical assistance or help from law enforcement. Kyle headed in that direction with a first aid kit. He sought out injured persons, rendered aid, and tried to guide people to others who could assist to the extent he could do so amid the chaos."
Police allegedly blocked Rittenhouse's path back to the original shop. He received word that the owner's second shop down the street was the new target.
"As Kyle proceeded towards the second mechanic’s shop, he was accosted by multiple rioters who recognized that he had been attempting to protect a business the mob wanted to destroy. This outraged the rioters and created a mob now determined to hurt Kyle. They began chasing him down. Kyle attempted to get away, but he could not do so quickly enough. Upon the sound of a gunshot behind him, Kyle turned and was immediately faced with an attacker lunging towards him and reaching for his rifle. He reacted instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon to protect himself, firing and striking the attacker," the statement explained. "Kyle stopped to ensure care for the wounded attacker but faced a growing mob gesturing towards him. He realized he needed to flee for his safety and his survival. Another attacker struck Kyle from behind as he fled down the street. Kyle turned as the mob pressed in on him and he fell to the ground. One attacker kicked Kyle on the ground while he was on the ground. Yet another bashed him over the head with a skateboard. Several rioters tried to disarm Kyle. In fear for his life and concerned the crowd would either continue to shoot at him or even use his own weapon against him, Kyle had no choice but to fire multiple rounds towards his immediate attackers, striking two, including one armed attacker. The rest of the mob began to disperse upon hearing the additional gunshots."
Following the shooting, Rittenhouse allegedly tried going directly to officers who ushered him away. Later that night, he turned himself in to Antioch police.
The attorneys representing Rittenhouse believe he was exercising his Second Amendment rights.
"A 17-year old child should not have to take up arms in America to protect life and property. That is the job of state and local governments. However, those governments have failed, and law-abiding citizens have no choice but to protect their own communities as their forefathers did at Lexington and Concord in 1775," the law firm's founder, John Pierce, said in a statement. "Kyle is not a racist or a white supremacist. He is a brave, patriotic, compassionate law-abiding American who loves his country and his community. He did nothing wrong. He defended himself, which is a fundamental right of all Americans given by God and protected by law."