Kyle Rittenhouse predicted he would spend the rest of his life in prison after shooting three people during chaotic demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., over the summer, a close friend told police hours after the gunfire.
Dominick Black, 19, told investigators that Rittenhouse fled to the back room of a local business after Kenosha police rebuffed his attempt to turn himself in. Black said he met Rittenhouse there and tried to calm him down after he fatally shot two men and wounded another.
“The dude’s sweating like a pig. He’s just freaking out. His face is white,” Black said in a recorded interview obtained by the Chicago Tribune. “He’s like, ‘I’m going to jail for the rest of my life. I’m done.’ [He’s] just scared.”
The interview was recorded Aug. 26 at the Antioch, Ill., police station, where Rittenhouse turned himself in shortly after the shooting. Rittenhouse, his mother and two sisters also sat for interviews with Kenosha detectives that night.
Prosecutors have since charged Black with two felony counts of illegally providing Rittenhouse, 17, with the rifle — one count for each man who died.
Kenosha County Court Commissioner Loren Keating found at a hearing Thursday that there was probable cause to go ahead with Black’s prosecution, rebuffing defense lawyers’ efforts to have the case thrown out. Black is due for an arraignment Jan. 13.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Antioch police released recorded interviews with Black and with Rittenhouse’s older sister, Faith, late Thursday. The videos give the first glimpse at how the investigation unfolded in the hours after Rittenhouse shot the men amid unrest in southeast Wisconsin.
Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, died from the injuries they sustained that night, while Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, suffered a gunshot wound to his arm.
Rittenhouse faces murder and gun charges in Kenosha County. Rittenhouse’s attorneys have argued he shot the men in self-defense. Family members and representatives of the men shot have rejected the idea that Rittenhouse was justified in firing.
Violent protests erupted Aug. 25 in Kenosha after police Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, several times in the back at close range. The demonstrations — fueled by video of the shooting — turned destructive at points, leaving parts of the city damaged.
The video shows Kenosha police Det. Benjamin Antaramian leading Black through a cordial interview that lasted roughly an hour. Black did not show signs of distress, unlike Rittenhouse, who police reports indicate cried and vomited when speaking with authorities.
After Antaramian told Black he was not in custody, the teen gave his account of events surrounding the shootings, which echoed previously released police reports. Black — who said he dated Rittenhouse’s younger sister and had known the family for about a year — told the officer that the two went to Kenosha to protect several properties owned by the same person. Black said they brought assault-style rifles “just in case they shoot at us … just in case we have to defend ourselves.”
While taking the statement, the detective told Black that the protests had been “anarchy.”
Black said he spent much of his time on the roof of one business while Rittenhouse walked around below with a medical kit and an AR-15.
Black said he had purchased the gun in his name at a hardware store in northern Wisconsin, but Rittenhouse paid for it. At age 17, Rittenhouse could not legally purchase the firearm on his own.
“I don’t know why … the whole time I’m thinking, ‘he’s not 18,’” he told police. “In my head, like, I could have stopped it. But I know if I would have told him ‘no,’ he would have threw a fit.”
Black said he heard shots and then Rittenhouse called him to say he’d shot someone. Black’s statements about what his friend later told him about the shootings largely mirror Rittenhouse’s lawyers’ contention that the teen fired because people were attacking him and he feared for his life.
Black said he watched from the roof as Rittenhouse seemingly tried to turn himself in to police, but the officers did not arrest him. Black said Rittenhouse told him an officer had threatened to pepper-spray him during that exchange.
Black said that after the shootings, he and Rittenhouse met in a building and decided to leave Kenosha.
“It was like, ‘you know what, we’re gonna get in my car, we’re gonna drive out of here before anything bad else happens to you, and we’re just gonna go back home and you’re gonna go to the police station,’” Black said.
At one point, Black suggested he could eventually be held responsible for the shootings, even though Antaramian repeatedly stated he was not investigating the gun’s provenance and kept the tone of his questions amiable.
“Dude, I think I’m gonna be in more trouble than you because you defended yourself,” Black said he told Rittenhouse. “In all reality, you are not supposed to have that gun. That gun was in my name.”
Black’s attorney declined comment late Thursday night.
Black said is not aware of any formal gun training Rittenhouse received and that his friend did not hunt. Before the Kenosha unrest, Black said, the two teens had only shot targets and clay pigeons together. He did not have a lot of praise for Rittenhouse’s abilities.
“He’s horrible at shooting clay pigeons,” Black said.
After the shooting, Black drove Rittenhouse back to his mother’s apartment in Antioch. They met up with Rittenhouse’s mother and two sisters there, he said.
“What does his mom say?” the detective asked.
Black gave a small laugh.
“At first she was like … you got a choice: You gotta get out of town or you can turn yourself into the police office right now.”
Rittenhouse’s sister confirmed the family discussed the possibility of going into hiding, but Rittenhouse wanted to turn himself in.
Much of Faith Rittenhouse’s 35-minute interview is inaudible as she speaks in a soft voice while describing how she first learned about the shooting on social media. The 20-year-old allowed a Kenosha detective to review text messages and other media from her phone that night and became tearful when he appears to watch video of the chaos that night.
“We asked what happened and he said, ‘I was getting attacked and so I had to shoot,’ ” she told the detective.
At the end of her interview, Kenosha police informed her that Kyle Rittenhouse would remain in custody and likely face criminal charges in Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse posted $2-million bond on Friday and was released from custody, according to the Associated Press.