In his first public interview since being arrested, Kyle Rittenhouse — the 17-year-old charged with fatally shooting two people and injuring a third during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August — told the Washington Post that he doesn’t regret bringing a firearm to the riots.
“No I don’t regret it. I feel I had to protect myself,” he said, speaking on the phone from the juvenile detention center where he is currently being held. “I would have died that night if I didn’t.”
“I was going into a place where people had guns, and God forbid somebody brought a gun to me and decided to shoot me … I wanted to be protected, which, I ended up having to protect myself,” Rittenhouse added.
During the interview, the Post also learned that Rittenhouse, who was too young to purchase a firearm himself, had arranged for an adult friend to buy it with government stimulus money Rittenhouse had received.
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Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide for his actions the night of August 25, which led to the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the injury of Gaige Grosskreutz. If convicted, he will serve a mandatory life sentence in prison.
But he explained to the news outlet that he was not in Kenosha that night to commit violence. He described to interviewers how he was hoping to protect a local business against violence and help injured people receive medical assistance.
The night of the incidents, Rittenhouse appeared on video saying, “our job is protect this business … and part of my job is to also help people.”
“If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way and that’s why I have my rifle,” he continued, “to protect myself obviously.”
When asked by the Post how he had thought the evening would unfold, Rittenhouse similarly said he expected that he would just be “watching over the business and providing first aid for minor injuries to people.”
Attorneys for the teenager have claimed their client acted in self-defense during the altercations that night, arguing that he was the one being chased down and attacked in each event. They even pointed out that the criminal complaint outlining homicide charges against Rittenhouse appear to read as if he acted in self-defense.
In a statement in August, Rittenhouse’s legal team stated, “Kyle did nothing wrong. He exercised his God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense.”
Videos that have surfaced and circulated on social media from that night appear to back their claims. However, it will be a jury that will ultimately decide Rittenhouse’s fate.