Illinois Teenager Arrested After Fatal Shooting Of 2 Protesters In Kenosha, Wis.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Protesters defied an emergency curfew and demonstrated on the streets of Kenosha, Wis., for a fourth night last night. They're doing so over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. There are now multiple investigations. Local authorities are examining the shooting of Blake. We now know the officer was a seven-year veteran of the force. His name - Rusten Sheskey. The FBI will lead a civil rights investigation. Then there is the investigation of the aftermath. Police have arrested a 17-year-old who allegedly shot three protesters, killing two of them. NPR's David Schaper is in Kenosha and has been following the latest there. We're also joined by Dan Mihalopoulos of Chicago Public Media, who has been looking into the suspect's background. Thanks to both of you for being here.
DAN MIHALOPOULOS, BYLINE: Good morning.
DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: David, let's start with you in Kenosha. Just describe what happened last night.
SCHAPER: Well, you know, it was a mostly peaceful night. After three nights of fires and looting and violence, authorities moved up the time of the city's curfew to 7:00 p.m. And while several protesters still ignored it, there were still far fewer on the streets than the previous few nights.
I did see a couple of verbal confrontations with police. And the police were aided by several hundred National Guard troops, but there was no violence. And part of the reason for that could be that that organizers who have been trying to maintain peaceful protest rallies and marches, they got on a megaphone and implored everyone to get off the streets.
PORCHE BENNETT: Remain safe. Please, we beg - we're asking y'all.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Please. Please. Please.
BENNETT: We don't want no more of what we had last night.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: That's right.
BENNETT: Get home safely.
SCHAPER: That's Porche Bennett, a 31-year-old lifelong resident of Kenosha, who told me that she knew the two people who were killed and the third who was seriously wounded in those shootings Tuesday night. She says they were regulars at these daily protests.
MARTIN: And I'm going to get to that in a minute. But I want to get an update from you, David, on what we know about the investigation into Jacob Blake's shooting by police.
SCHAPER: Yeah. So last night, the Wisconsin attorney general, Josh Kaul, released more details about the incident. He announced that the name of the officer who shot Jacob Blake is Rusten Sheskey. He's been on the Kenosha Police Force for seven years. And the attorney general says that the officers were responding to a domestic call. And they tried to arrest Blake. They don't exactly say why. But they first tried to use a taser on Blake, but it failed to subdue him.
As Blake walked around the vehicle and opened the driver's side of the door, he reached down, and that's when Officer Chesky first tried to pull him back up by his shirt and then fired seven times into his back. Now, investigators later recovered a knife from the driver's side floorboard of the vehicle, so they say. But they did not say if the police officers on the scene knew that that knife was there.
MARTIN: And we should just remind people Blake was not killed, but he is still in very serious condition. So that was the shooting that precipitated then all of these protests. And as we've been talking about, a 17-year-old has been arrested for shooting and killing allegedly two of those protesters. Dan, you have been looking into this. What have you learned about that suspected gunman?
MIHALOPOULOS: Yeah. We're talking about Kyle Rittenhouse. And he is very young, as you said, 17 years old, weighed all of about 150 pounds and lived with his mother just across the state line in northern Illinois, in the northern suburbs of Chicago. And from his social media, we know that the suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, loved three things. He wanted Donald Trump to get reelected this year. He posted a lot of pictures of himself with guns. And he was also a fervent supporter of Blue Lives Matter, of the police.
And he'd actually been a cadet in a suburban police department just outside Chicago when he was a teenager. And he would dress up in some of these photos in full police regalia - a tie, the trooper hat, bomber jacket. So he was very, very much an admirer of law enforcement.
MARTIN: Do we know, at this point, what he was doing in Kenosha and why he was at the protests?
MIHALOPOULOS: So it looks like he went north of the state line to Kenosha earlier this week because he thought he was what he called, quote, "local militia." There's a video of him out there acting almost as if he is law enforcement himself. So he's administering vigilante justice or at least vigilante protection of businesses.
So there had been looting earlier in the week, and there are a number of militia groups in that part of Wisconsin who organized even on Facebook. We don't know if Kyle Rittenhouse was affiliated with those groups, but he certainly saw himself as someone who was out there protecting business and working with the very law enforcement that he had so idolized throughout his childhood.
MARTIN: There are these videos circulating - graphic videos describing these - capturing, rather, the moments around these fatal shootings of the protesters. What do they tell us about what happened?
MIHALOPOULOS: Absolutely horrific scenes were recorded by a number of people late Tuesday into early Wednesday. What happened was there had been a protest. They were asked to disperse from the area around the courthouse in Kenosha. And then a short distance away, there were confrontations between Kyle Rittenhouse, this self-appointed member of the local militia as he put it, and some of the demonstrators. One of them is shot at close range in a video. He has a head wound. And it seems that he succumbed to those wounds and was one of two victims.
Then Kyle Rittenhouse is seen in these videos running down the street being pursued by people who are yelling that he had just shot someone. And he shot two of his pursuers at close range. And one of them died. Right after that, we see Kyle Rittenhouse with the police going right past and people are saying that he was the shooter. And yet he is not apprehended until the next day in Illinois. And he is in custody in Illinois, awaiting extradition to Kenosha in connection with these two murders.
MARTIN: It's a lot for this city of Kenosha to absorb in this moment. NPR's David Schaper and Dan Mihalopoulos of Chicago Public Media, thanks to you both.
MIHALOPOULOS: My pleasure.
SCHAPER: Yeah. My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.