An Illinois teenager was arrested and charged with homicide for allegedly killing two people and seriously injuring a third in an overnight shooting during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to police. Interestingly, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, initially didn't seem to be a part of any organized group although he was heavily armed and was allowed to leave by the police.
However, he was found to be the man behind the two killings and arrested after social media users attempted to reconstruct the shootings that took place during a week of protests against police brutality. The lakeside city has been rocked by civil unrest since Sunday, when police shot Jacob Blake, 29, in the back at close range.
The violence that erupted in Kenosha and ended up leaving two people dead and a third injured on Tuesday night unfolded on social media. Police were looking for the suspect but couldn't make any arrests till Wednesday although they sounded confident about identifying the suspect. On late Wednesday they arrested Rittenhouse and have now charged him with homicide.
However, it wasn't that easy for the police. Police not only didn't arrest Rittenhouse at the scene, but at the start of the night they thanked an armed group who had come out thinking that they were helping the authorities to pacify the protesters. At the end of the night, video shows a heavily armed Rittenhouse allowed to walk right out of the Kenosha hot zone.
Before Rittenhouse walked out, gunshots were heard but little did police realize that the suspect was leaving the scene without anyone confronting him.
Social Media Comes to Help
Soon after the shooting, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said they have started investigation and are looking at video footage to identify the suspect. However, they failed to identify Rittenhouse although witnesses identified the shooter as a teenager in green shirt with a gun.
Finally, social media users, who had already been suspecting Rittenhouse, came to help. In graphic videos posted online, a man in a green shirt and blue gloves appears to shoot a protest attendee with a rifle. While earlier video showed protesters and armed vigilantes in a tense confrontation, the exact start of the altercation isn't clear. But as someone begins first aid, the shooter apparently pulls out a phone and shouts that "I just killed somebody."
Rittenhouse, part of the brigade on Tuesday night, is believed to have worn a white hat, green shirt and blue gloves. He carried with him a long gun. At the same time, a video form a different angle shows some Good Samaritans tending to one of the two men who was shot. As witnesses try to keep that man alive, Rittenhouse is apparently seen running down the street and gets noticed.
A Twitter account with the handle @swampthingx was apparently one of the earliest to name Rittenhouse. The account posted screenshots of his Facebook profile, which included pictures of him brandishing a rifle similar to that in the video, plus numerous pro-police "Blue Lives Matter" posts.
According to several witness accounts and video footage, police failed to identify the gunman and allowed him to walk past them and leave the scene with a rifle over his shoulder and his hands in the air as members of the crowd shouted for him to be arrested because he had shot people.
Bluffing the Authorities
Shortly afterwards, Rittenhouse can be seen in several videos, being approached by protesters who appear to be attempting to disarm him. He fires more shots and hits two more people and then walks toward several law enforcement vehicles with his hands up. One of the witnesses repeatedly yells that "that dude just shot someone," but an officer on his vehicle asks if anyone is injured and drives toward the slain and wounded protesters â leaving Rittenhouse to walk away.
The Kenosha Police Department finally zeroed in on Rittenhouse after reviewing the Twitter and YouTube videos. Later, they offered a noncommittal description of the night's events. "Last night, a 17-year-old individual from Antioch, Illinois was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place," said Daniels. Rittenhouse was arrested in Antioch, Illinois. As he is in custody in another state, efforts are being made to bring him back to Wisconsin.