Two people were fatally shot and one was injured during the third night of protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, police said early Wednesday.
Tuesday night's shooting took place near a gas station following a confrontation between protesters and men armed with guns who claimed to be guarding the gas station, the New York Times reported.
Kenosha police said officers responded to shots fired at around 11:45 p.m. Police did not release the names of the victims, but said a 26-year-old man from Silver Lake and a 36-year-old man from Kenosha had been killed. Another 26-year-old man who was shot was transported to a hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white man, was arrested in connection with the shootings on Wednesday morning in Antioch, Illinois, which is about 20 miles from Kenosha.
He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Kenosha and was separately charged as a fugitive from justice in Antioch, according to police records obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Rittenhouse allegedly fled Wisconsin after the shooting "with the intent to avoid prosecution," the police complaint said. Lake County Circuit Court records show that he will appear in court again on Friday for an extradition hearing.
In a live video on Facebook, Dylan Schultz, a 28-year-old protester, recorded the armed suspect running away from a crowd after multiple gunshots were heard and a person fell to the ground after being shot in the head.
Schultz told BuzzFeed News that he walking by the gas station and tire shop where armed militia were "menacing" to the crowd of protesters and "pointing weapons in their faces."
He said some people in the crowd walked further down to a car shop where they began smashing in windows with pipes and skateboards and slashing tires.
Schultz said he was across the street when he saw that "the kid in the green shirt ran up with his long gun, puffed out his chest, and thought that he needed to step up and do something."
The armed suspect then opened fire at a person who appeared to be unarmed, Schultz said. A graphic video shows people trying to help the man who was reported to have been shot in the head.
In Schultz's video, the armed man is then seen running away with his gun.
Within minutes, the same armed man was caught on another video running down a street as protesters chase him. As the man falls to the ground, he fires multiple shots into the crowd, striking one man in the chest and another in the arm.
The armed man is then seen walking down the street toward a police car with his hands in the air as armored trucks pass by him. He was not apprehended.
When asked about this later in the day, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth essentially said it was loud and sometimes officers have "tunnel vision."
In another video clip, a law enforcement official in an armored truck is seen handing over a bottle of water to the same armed man. It is unclear when the video was taken.
In a separate video, the armed man says he was "pepper-sprayed by a person in the crowd" and that he was ready to defend property.
A militia group calling itself Kenosha Guard on Facebook said they had mobilized their members during Tuesday night's protests. Their page says they are "a group of citizen volunteers that are ready to protect our great City."
In a Facebook post before Tuesday's protests, the group called for "patriots willing to take up arms and defend our City tonight from the evil thugs."
In a statement on Wednesday, the group said it was unaware if the armed suspect involved in the shooting "was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia's call to arms."
Sheriff Beth told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was aware of the "vigilante group," but said that he did not know if the suspect was involved with that group.
A live video on Facebook captured the confrontation between a group of armed civilians and Black Lives Matter protesters at the gas station before the shooting on Tuesday night. The video shows them verbally sparring as well as objects being thrown.
An unidentified armed civilian present during Tuesday night's protests told the Washington Post that he was there to stop people from breaking into local businesses and that he had heard rumors of people throwing pipe bombs. It is unclear if pipe bombs were used during Tuesday night's demonstrations.
"If the cops aren’t going to stop them from throwing pipe bombs on innocent civilians, somebody has to,” the man said.
"Ain’t nothing being done. We're the only ones," Joe, a 29-year-old man who identified himself as a US Marine veteran, told the Post. "Three thousand of us are armed and ready.
Sheriff Beth on Wednesday addressed the issue of armed militia patrolling the city, calling them a "liability."
Beth said that when someone asked him why he doesn't deputize citizens with guns to patrol the city, he responded, "Oh, hell no. What happened last night...is the perfect reason why I wouldn't... They are a liability to me, the county, and the state," Beth said.
Kenosha has been plunged into three days of civil unrest after a police officer shot Blake seven times as he got into his car with three of his children nearby on Sunday. Blake's family and attorney said he has been paralyzed by a bullet.
The shooting, captured on viral video, has sparked demonstrations during which police teargassed protesters and businesses were broken into and burned, prompting Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to deploy the National Guard to Kenosha.
Evers authorized 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard on Wednesday to support local law enforcement in Kenosha County, a spokesperson for the governor's office told BuzzFeed News.