An Illinois teenager who fatally shot two people and wounded a third amidst riots on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges including intentional homicide.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, entered his plea in a brief hearing conducted by teleconference.
Prosecutors say Rittenhouse left his home in Antioch, Illinois, and traveled to Kenosha after learning of a call to protect businesses in the wake of the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz in the resulting unrest in the city of 100,000 near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, has argued he fired in self-defense.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley hasn’t publicly announced the timing of a decision on whether to charge Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha police officer who shot Blake.
But the city in recent days began preparing for the event, with some businesses boarding their windows and concrete barricades and metal fencing surrounding the Kenosha County Courthouse.
Fearing a repeat of the destructive August riots — authorities ultimately estimated some $50 million in damage — the Kenosha Common Council on Monday night unanimously approved an emergency resolution that goes into effect with the announcement and allows the mayor to set curfews.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tony Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to help Kenosha authorities when the decision is announced.
“Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary,” Evers said in a statement.
Blake’s father led a march through the city Monday evening, calling on people to “make noise” and be “heard around the world.”
“[Sheskey] tried to kill my son and could have killed my grandchildren,” Jacob Blake Sr. said during a news conference before the march. “He shot him seven times in his back unjustifiably.”
Tanya McLean, executive director of the community organization Leaders of Kenosha and a friend of the Blake family, said as Monday evening’s march was kicking off that violence isn’t acceptable.
“No matter what the decision is, we are seeking nonviolence,” she said.
“We want everybody to come out, make as much noise as you want, but we don’t want any destruction of property or businesses. We are for nonviolence. Anything else is not acceptable for this community.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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