The attorney representing accused killer Kyle Rittenhouse released a lengthy statement on Friday, claiming the 17-year-old was cornered in a parking lot and defended himself from “a relentless, vicious, and potentially deadly mob.” John Pierce claimed that Rittenhouse had finished a day of community service in Kenosha when he and a friend decided to stay around to help defend local businesses and offer medical aid. He claimed that Rittenhouse obtained the AR-15 gun used in the killings in Wisconsin, rather than illegally carrying it across state lines from his home in Illinois. (Prosecutors have charged him with illegally possessing a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor offense.)
Pierce said in the statement that police began corralling protesters down a street after an 8 p.m. curfew ended, giving Rittenhouse no way of escaping protesters who were taunting and threatening him. He claimed, without evidence, that a “mob” was intent on hurting Rittenhouse because they saw him earlier defending a business that they “wanted to destroy.” The statement alleged that Rittenhouse only fired his gun in response to people attacking him or trying to grab his gun. Pierce said Rittenhouse “instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon.”
However, in a criminal complaint, prosecutors accuse Rittenhouse of committing five felonies while being illegally armed, including first-degree intentional homicide. Rittenhouse shot dead his first victim after the unarmed man threw a plastic bag at him and tried to grab his gun, the complaint alleges. His second victim was allegedly killed after trying to grab Rittenhouse’s gun while swinging at the teen with a skateboard. An extradition hearing has been postponed to September 25.