Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother has recalled the moment her ‘crying and pale’ son returned home to Illinois after fatally shooting two protesters in Wisconsin – as she defended the 17-year-old who she says would be dead if he hadn’t been armed.
The teen, who was arrested at his home in Antioch, Illinois a day after the shootings, has remained in custody in his home state as his lawyers fight his extradition to Wisconsin to face trial.
Prosecutors say he shot and killed two protesters and injured a third on the streets of Kenosha on August 25.
His attorneys have argued that he was acting in self-defense and have portrayed the him as a courageous patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms during unrest over the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy, 45, defended the teen in an interview with Fox News on Friday.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy has recalled the moment her ‘crying and pale’ son returned home to Illinois after fatally shooting two protesters in Wisconsin – as she defended the 17-year-old who she says would be dead if he hadn’t been armed. They are pictured in an undated photo
Wendy, a single mother of three, said she didn’t know her son was going to be at the protests in Kenosha until he texted her late on the night of August 25.
Wendy said her son had worked as a lifeguard in Wisconsin the day prior and stayed overnight at a friend’s house. She said the pair spent the day cleaning graffiti off buildings in Kenosha before heading to the areas targeted by demonstrators in the previous nights.
Wendy said her son sent her a text message saying he was okay and that he was going to be ‘doing medics’ at the protests.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, will for now remain in custody in his home state of Illinois following a brief video court hearing on Friday in Lake County, Illinois
She said she woke in the middle of the night and learned of the violence that had unfolded in Kenosha. Wendy said she and Rittenhouse’s two sisters immediately drove from Illinois to Wisconsin in search of the teen.
She said they eventually returned home and Rittenhouse was already there.
‘When I got back home, he was already there,’ she said. ‘All I did was hug him, tell him I love him. He was crying. He was pale.’
Rittenhouse was arrested when he handed himself in to police in his home state.
Wendy said that in the weeks after the shootings she struggled to watch the videos that emerged that captured the ordeal, adding they made her ‘sick to my stomach’.
‘I get to the point where the first guy was chasing him to the gas station … And I see this mob chasing my son. The guy hitting my son in the head with a skateboard,’ she said.
‘Looking at my son’s face… I just cry, I was sick to my stomach. This mob was chasing my son to try to kill him.
‘If he didn’t have that gun, he would’ve been dead.’
Prosecutors say Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters and wounded a third on the streets of Kenosha on August 25. His attorneys have said Rittenhouse acted in self-defense and have portrayed him as a courageous patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms
Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of two protesters: Joseph Rosenbaum (left) and Anthony Huber (right)
Wendy denied accusations that she drove Rittenhouse to the protests or that she gave her underage son the gun used in the shootings.
‘I did not drive Kyle. I did not give Kyle that gun and people want to assume that,’ she said. ‘They’re wrong. I did not drive my son to Kenosha that night.’
Wendy said the gun belonged to the friend her son had stayed with and that he only ever used it when he was in Wisconsin.
She said the controversy surrounding the shooting has resulted in her taking a leave of absence from the nursing home where she works and relocating to another location with her two daughters.
Wendy said she fears being a target and the family no longer feel safe at home.
‘We can’t even go back home. We don’t even have a home because the fear of them breaking in my house, killing my daughters, killing me, and if Kyle was there, to kill him.’
Rittenhouse’s arrest has become a rallying point for some on the right with a legal defense fund that has attracted millions in donations.
Others, however, see Rittenhouse as a domestic terrorist who presence with a rifle incited the protesters.
Wendy addressed some of that controversy in her Fox News interview as she accused Joe Biden of using her son as a political pawn.
Footage of Rittenhouse carrying his gun was included in a mash up video tweeted by Biden and his campaign that called on President Trump to denounce white supremacy.
Video shows that Rittenhouse tripped in the street before 26-year-old Anthony Huber hit him with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle away. Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber
Rittenhouse then shot and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, who was holding a handgun at the time, as he approached the teenager
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have threatened to sue Biden for libel, claiming the video suggests the teen is a white supremacist.
‘I am angry. My son is not a white supremacist. He is not a racist. He is not in no militia,’ Wendy said.
‘Former Vice President Biden, how dare [he] use my son for a political ad for his campaign.’
Rittenhouse surrendered to police in his hometown of Antioch a day after the killings.
The teen, who is white, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of two white protesters and attempted intentional homicide in the wounding of a third.
He also faces a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession for wielding a semi-automatic rifle.
If convicted of first-degree homicide, Rittenhouse would be sentenced to life in prison.
The teenager had traveled to Kenosha on August 25 from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, in a self-appointed role to protect the streets of Kenosha where the police shooting of Jacob Blake had sparked unrest during protests.
Cellphone videos from the night show chaotic scenes.
According to prosecutors and court documents, Rittenhouse shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, missing him, and tried to wrestle his rifle away.
While trying to get away in the immediate aftermath, Rittenhouse was captured on cellphone video saying ‘I just killed somebody.’
According to the complaint filed by prosecutors, someone in the crowd said, ‘Beat him up!’ and another yelled, ‘Get him! Get that dude!’
Video shows that Rittenhouse tripped in the street.
As he was on the ground, 26-year-old Anthony Huber hit him with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle away. Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz who was holding a handgun at the time.
Cellphone video that captured some of the action shows Rittenhouse afterward walking slowly toward a police vehicle with his hands up, only to be waved through by police.
He returned to his Illinois home and turned himself in soon after. Police later blamed the chaotic conditions for not arresting Rittenhouse at the scene.