A gun used in the August shooting deaths of two protestors in Kenosha was purchased at a Rusk County sports and hardware store, according to multiple news outlets’ stories citing court records tied to the case.
A Wisconsin court set a $2 million bond for Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager charged in the killing of two protesters and wounding of a third at demonstrations in Kenosha after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The 17-year-old was arrested at his home in Antioch, Ill., a day after the Aug. 25 shootings. Two men, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were fatally shot and a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, was injured. The shootings were recorded on cell phone videos and posted to numerous social media outlets.
Illinois prosecutors issued a news release earlier this month that said the AR-15 used in the shooting was purchased, stored and used in Wisconsin, and Rittenhouse never possessed the weapon in Illinois.
According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Rittenhouse told Antioch police his friend, who told officers he had been in Kenosha with Rittenhouse, had the rifle in the trunk of his car.
Prosecutors said Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, 19, agreed to purchase the AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle because Rittenhouse wasn’t old enough to buy it for himself, Milwaukee television station WTMJ reported. The complaint said Rittenhouse gave Black the money to buy the gun, and he purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P15 at the Ladysmith Ace Home Center.
Black and Rittenhouse agreed the gun would be stored at Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha because Rittenhouse didn’t have an Illinois Firearm Owner Identification card, WTMJ reported.
Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first degree intentional homicide and two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety. He is also charged with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
Black has been charged with two counts of intentionally giving a dangerous weapon to a person under 18, causing death. If convicted, Black is facing up to six years in prison on each felony count, WTMJ reported.
Black told an officer he had been with Rittenhouse in Kenosha and was armed with a gun on the roof of a business, but did not see the shooting. Rittenhouse called Black at some point after the shooting. Black said he disassembled his own gun to put in his backpack, picked up Rittenhouse and then put both rifles in the trunk of his vehicle, where police later found them.
In a police interview, Black allegedly said Rittenhouse gave him money to buy the rifle at Ace Hardware in Ladysmith, and the weapon was to be used only while hunting up north at Black’s family’s property. In the meantime, it was stored at the Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha.
Gun trace records confirmed Black had purchased both rifles at stores in Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Ladysmith Police Chief Kevin Julien said his department has not been contacted by any law enforcement agency about the shooting investigation.
ACE store management declined to comment.
“We really can’t comment on anything that may have been sold in our store,” Ace General Manager Zach Weathers said.
Antioch police interviewed Black’s stepfather, who allegedly said when he learned about the gun purchased for Rittenhouse, he refused to allow the rifle to be kept anywhere other than his locked safe in Kenosha because he knew Rittenhouse was only 17. He later decided to move the gun from the safe in the garage to his house after unrest stemming from the police shooting of Blake.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have said Rittenhouse had just finished up a shift at his summer job lifeguarding when he met up with Black in Kenosha to help clean graffiti off a school building on Aug. 25. Then they heard about a business owner who needed help defending his business, so they armed themselves and volunteered, WTMJ reported.
The criminal complaint charging Black said Black and Rittenhouse met up at Black’s stepfather’s house, and Black gave Rittenhouse the gun he had illegally purchased for him.
The stepfather did not realize the gun was gone until hours after the fatal protest shooting, when he was preparing to leave Kenosha for the rest of the week because of the unrest.
An Illinois judge approved extradition to Wisconsin for Rittenhouse on Oct. 30.