Attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old from Illinois who’s facing murder and assault charges in the shootings of three people during riots and unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in late August, are scheduled to appear in court this week to fight the extradition of Rittenhouse back to Wisconsin to stand trial. The lawyers for the teenager have consistently argued that their client was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, and continued to act in self-defense when he was attacked by Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz as they pursued him as he was heading towards Kenosha police to turn himself in.
The Washington Post ran a lengthy story over the weekend focusing on the lives of Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz, but the largely sympathetic portrayal of the three men shot by Rittenhouse also provides more evidence that the teenager was acting in self-defense when he was attacked and pursued by a crowd on the streets of Kenosha.
The Post reports that Rosenbaum had been released from a Milwaukee hospital earlier that day after attempting suicide, and his already troubled life had been spiraling downwards in the months before the rioting in the city broke out after the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police. Rosenbaum and his fiancee had been homeless for much of the winter and spring before being placed in a motel by social services.
Rosenbaum did odd jobs for the owner, who complained in an interview about his shoddy work. Aside from one supervised visit, he never saw the child for whom he had moved to Kenosha. In June, he attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. A month later, his fiancee confronted him after finding pornography on his phone. Rosenbaum body-slammed her, according to police, who took him to jail and then released him.
One week later, Rosenbaum called a suicide crisis line. Police found him vomiting and having convulsions outside a McDonald’s. He spent a few days in the hospital followed by a few more days in jail for violating the no-contact order with his former girlfriend. Then he was sent for more treatment to the mental hospital in Milwaukee.
Two hours before he was killed, Rosenbaum left his fiancee’s motel room and caught a bus for downtown, where a second night of protests had erupted.
“He wasn’t down there as a rioter or a looter,” his fiancee said. “Why was he there? I have no answer. I ask myself that question every day.”
We might not know why Rosenbaum decided to head downtown, but according to the Post‘s reporting, it sounds like he was agitated and aggressive throughout the evening.
In videos from that night, Rosenbaum often appeared agitated. When a member of the Kenosha Guard, a self-proclaimed militia, pointed his gun at him, Rosenbaum became enraged and dared the man, who was White, to kill him. “Shoot me, n—–!” he shouted. Several protesters rushed to calm Rosenbaum.
“You’re going to get us all shot,” one of them recalled telling him.
At 11:45 p.m., Richie McGinniss, a reporter with the conservative Daily Caller, spotted Rosenbaum, his T-shirt wrapped around his head, chasing Rittenhouse down the street. It’s unclear what provoked the confrontation, though Rittenhouse’s attorneys speculated in a video released last week that Rosenbaum may have mistaken the teenager for a similarly attired member of the Kenosha Guard he confronted earlier at the gas station.
Rosenbaum pursued Rittenhouse down Sheridan Road and into the parking lot of a car dealership that would soon go up in flames. He threw his hospital bag at Rittenhouse, missing him, and charged at the teenager.
Someone nearby fired a shot. “F— you!” someone else screamed. Rosenbaum tried to grab Rittenhouse’s rifle, and the teenager — who was just feet from Rosenbaum — began shooting, striking Rosenbaum in the back and groin. Another bullet grazed Rosenbaum’s head. In the seconds after the gunfire, Rittenhouse is caught on video trying to call a friend for help.
Much of what the Post reported about Rosenbaum’s shooting matches up with the charging documents originally filed by prosecutors, which also describe the man yelling at Rittenhouse before he begins chasing him down the street. As Rittenhouse ran to try to escape Rosenbaum, others joined in the chase. Video from the scene shows one of the pursuers firing a shot into the air just seconds before Rosenbaum cornered Rittenhouse and tried to grab his rifle, which is when Rittenhouse fired the fatal shots.
After shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse then left the area and headed towards police, but was quickly pursued by the mob once again.
After a few yards, Rittenhouse stumbled and fell to the ground. An unidentified man ran toward him and delivered a flying kick. Rittenhouse fired at him but missed.
Then came Huber, who swung a skateboard at Rittenhouse’s shoulder and reached for his rifle. Rittenhouse fired again, hitting Huber in the chest.
Last came Grosskreutz, who ran toward Rittenhouse with his pistol drawn. Rittenhouse raised his rifle and shot. A bullet tore through Grosskreutz’s right biceps.
“Medic!” Grosskreutz screamed as he stumbled away. “I need a f—ing medic!”
The Post‘s story provides a lot of background on the three men shot by Rittenhouse, but it does nothing to advance the narrative put forth by anti-gun activists and politicians like Joe Biden that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist militia member who was looking for trouble when he headed to Kenosha. Instead, it sounds like trouble found Rittenhouse in the form of Joseph Rosenbaum; a troubled man with a recent history of violence who was off his medication for bi-polar disorder and was acting aggressively throughout the night of August 25th, even before he began chasing Rittenhouse down a dark street with others joining in the pursuit of the teenager.