“Best Kept Secret in Antioch, Illinois.” The phrase, a publicity teaser for this “exquisite and beautiful landscaped apartment community,” in a town halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, took on a dramatic new meaning on Tuesday. In one of these six blocks of two-story brown buildings, in a two-room apartment, lived with his mother Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old boy who could come armed to put order in the neighboring city and open fire with his rifle. assault, feeling cornered, killing two people and wounding another who was standing with arms raised.
Rittenhouse was arrested at 5 a.m. Wednesday at his Antioch apartment and transferred to the Lake County (Illinois) juvenile detention center, where he awaits his extradition to Wisconsin. He faces six offenses, including one first degree reckless homicide, one first degree intentional homicide and yet another attempted first degree murder. This Thursday, the police cordon that protected it the day before was lifted, “the best kept secret in Antioch” looked deserted. A man got out of a car to ask the visitor to leave: “Let us live in peace.” “This country has gone crazy, and this time madness has touched us in our backyard,” summarized a woman, who did not want to give her name, as she walked away with a friend to the adjoining park, dressed in sportswear.
“Armed citizens” were needed. “The police are outnumbered and our mayor has failed. Let’s take up arms and defend our city! ”Wrote a group calling itself the Kenosha Guard on social media. The city, just 25 kilometers from Antioch, was ablaze on the third night of protests after a white police officer shot African-American Jacob Blake seven times in the back, while three of his sons watched him from the car.
Rittenhouse came to the call last Tuesday. The boy adored the police. He enrolled as a cadet in a program for teenagers who want to be police officers. In a Facebook profile photo, he was smiling, holding his semi-automatic rifle with another armed friend, surrounded by a caption: “Duty. Honor. Courage. Blue Lives Matter ”. It is a slogan that emerged in response to the movement against racial injustice Black Lives Matter, which changes the color black for the blue of the police uniform.
So when he read that the police needed help, he packed his assault rifle and a first aid kit into the car and drove to Kenosha. He passed through the industrial estates of Antioch. He left behind the institute he left early, Lakes Community High School, at whose entrance four large American flags were waving at half-staff on Thursday, and where his mother, a nursing assistant, requested an order of protection for him in January 2017 because a classmate called him “stupid” and “stupid” and threatened to hurt him.
His first destination when he arrived in Kenosha on Tuesday was another institute, in the center of the city, outside which he was seen helping to clean up the ruins of the previous night. What happens from here has been able to be reconstructed by the Prosecutor’s Office thanks to dozens of videos of witnesses that have come to light. In the recordings, Rittenhouse is seen cleaning graffiti, attending to people, integrated with members of various armed groups. The relationship of the young man with any of the militias that came to take justice into his hand, and which the police allowed to remain armed in the street despite the curfew, is not proven.
In a video, police officers are seen from a tank thanking Rittenhouse and other armed militiamen, asking them if they need water and throwing a bottle at them. Next, the same agents order other civilians to leave the place because “the area is closed to everyone.” Despite his boyish appearance, no one asked him for the documentation of the bulky assault rifle he was carrying, nor were they interested in whether he was the age of 18 that is required in the State to acquire this type of weapon.
In another of the videos, recorded outside a vandalized establishment the day before, Rittenhouse explains what his “job” consists of. “People are hurt and our job is to protect this business. Part of my job is also to protect people. If someone is hurt, I will go to danger. That’s why I have my rifle. Also to protect myself, obviously. But I also have my medical kit, “he says.
Just two blocks away is Car Source, a used car establishment, which this Thursday was a solar dantesque with dozens of vehicles reduced to lumps of calcined iron. There, shortly before midnight, Rittenhouse clashed with protesters. One of them, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, threw an object at him. They struggled. Shots rang out and Rosenbaum was sprawled on the ground.
Rittenhouse picked up the phone and, according to another video, made a call. “I just killed someone,” he says. A group of protesters went after the young man, who ran down the street, until he tripped and fell to the asphalt. From that position he opened fire again. Anthony Huber, 26, jumped on him, hit him with his skateboard and tried to take his rifle from him. But Rittenhouse managed to get away and shot him in the chest. Huber could barely take a few steps before he fell dead.
Then Rittenhouse, sitting on the ground, points his rifle at another young man, Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, who had also come after him, but when he saw how Rittenhouse had killed Huber, he took a few steps away and froze. with arms raised. Despite this, he shot him, wounding him in the right arm. The three men attacked by the minor were white.
Rittenhouse left the scene by walking backwards and pointing his rifle at the people who remained in the street. Another video shows how he passes, with his arms raised and his weapon slung over his shoulder, alongside a group of police vehicles. He just killed two people but nobody stops him. You can only hear how an agent tells him through a megaphone: “You, the one with the rifle, don’t come down here, it’s closed.” Rittenhouse walks out of the Kenosha hot zone and drives home.
He sheriff The county official explained to reporters that the fact that they gave the armed militiamen water did not imply a tacit permission to act. “We give water to everyone,” he said. “We don’t need more guns on the streets of our community,” said the city’s mayor, John Antaramian. Police Chief Dan Miskinis defended that the armed civilians were there “exercising their constitutional right.” Some militia groups launched fund-raisers online to help Rittenhouse’s legal defense.
In his social networks, in addition to weapons and the police, the young man showed a third passion: Donald Trump. He shared images on TikTok from the front row of a president’s rally in Iowa this past January. “We are not responsible for the private conduct of the people who come to our rallies, any more than Obama and Joe Biden are responsible for that of the crazy people who go to theirs,” Kellyanne Conway, the president’s adviser, told reporters.
Among those who continued to gather to protest peacefully on Thursday, the fury over the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer was added to the anger caused by the Rittenhouse shooting Tuesday night. “My mother shouldn’t be afraid for my life,” read the banner carried by Jane, a young African-American the same age as Rittenhouse. “He had no right to be here, no one asked him to come,” he explained. “What kind of country allows a boy my age to go with that gun on the street? Just think what would have happened if a black boy had walked that night with that rifle. “