It was all thanks to a stimulus check that Kenosha gunman Kyle Rittenhouse was able to purchase his gun. The 17-year-old said in a jailhouse interview that he had used the $1,200 doled out by the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic in order to buy the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 he later used to kill two protestors and injuring a third demonstrating against police violence in the wake Jacob Blake’s killing. He claimed he acted in self defense.
“I was on furlough from the YMCA and I got my first unemployment check, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll use this to buy it,’” he told the Washington Post.
Rittenhouse, who is reportedly too young to carry a firearm in the state except for hunting, said he asked his friend Dominick Black, 19, to purchase the gun for him in May. Black, an adult, then allegedly helped Rittenhouse store the weapon at his stepfather’s house in Kenosha.
On the day of the protests, Rittenhouse travelled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha. He insisted that he brought and fired the semi-automatic rifle at the peaceful protest in self-defense.
“I was going into a place where people had guns and God forbid somebody brought a gun to me and decided to shoot me,” he said. “I wanted to be protected, which I ended up having to protect myself.”
He said he packed a first-aid kit and intended to protect businesses and offer medical care to anyone who was injured. Cell phone footage from that night showed him openly carrying the rifle over his shoulder.
The same weapon was used to fatally shoot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. He also injured Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived the attack.
“I don’t think there’s any sort of self-defense when there’s an unarmed person in front of you, and you’re holding an assault rifle two feet away,” Rosenbaum’s fiancé, Kariann Swart, told the Washington Post.
But right-wing groups continue to hail him a hero, declaring that he intended to protect Kenosha from rioting.
Black, 19, is facing charges for allegedly illegally supplying the gun to Rittenhouse and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He was released from custody Monday, according to jail records. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
Black's stepfather alleges that Black told him "he and Kyle had been hired to perform security in Kenosha for a private business" — adding that he did not realize the firearm was missing from his home.
Rittenhouse is charged with one count of attempted homicide and two counts of intentional homicide. He is being prosecuted as an adult and is being held on $2 million bond. He has not yet entered a plea.