KENOSHA, Wis. — Wisconsin officials on Wednesday released details surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake and identified the officer who shot him.
Community leaders joined Kenosha District Attorney Mike Graveley and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul in a press conference to share details regarding the shooting. Officials said Kenosha police officers were dispatched to a residence in the 2800 block of 40th Street on Sunday after a woman reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.
Officials said during the incident, officers attempted to arrest Blake, 29. Officers deployed a stun gun to attempt to stop Blake, however the stun gun was not successful, the DOJ said.
In a press release, officials said Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward. While holding onto Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his gun seven times. Sheskey fired the weapon into Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon.
Sheskey, has been a law enforcement officer with the department for seven years. He was placed on administrative leave.
Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras.
During the investigation following the initial incident, Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession, the DOJ said. DCI agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Blake’s vehicle, according to the press release. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.
The DOJ said officers “immediately provided medical aid to Blake.” Blake was transported to a local hospital where he remains as of Wednesday night. His family said he is now paralyzed from the waist down.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday evening that a federal civil rights investigation has been opened into the shooting. The FBI and Wisconsin authorities will conduct the investigation with oversight by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.
Blake’ shooting sparked three nights of unrest in the city of Kenosha. On Tuesday night, two people were gunned down.
**WARNING: Video above is graphic, and some viewers may find the content disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Kyle Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, was taken into custody in Illinois on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide in connection to the shootings. Antioch is about 15 miles from Kenosha.
Two people were shot to death Tuesday night in an attack carried out by a young white man who was caught on cellphone video opening fire in the middle of the street with a semi-automatic rifle.
“I just killed somebody,” the gunman could be heard saying at one point during the rampage that erupted just before midnight.
In the wake of the killings, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized 500 members of the National Guard to support local law enforcement around Kenosha, doubling the number of troops sent in. The governor’s office said he is working with other states to bring in additional National Guard troops and law officers. Authorities also announced a 7 p.m. curfew.
“A senseless tragedy like this cannot happen again,” the governor, a Democrat, said in a statement. “I again ask those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights please do so peacefully and safely, as so many did last night. I also ask the individuals who are not there to exercise those rights to please stay home and let local first responders, law enforcement and members of the Wisconsin National Guard do their jobs.”
One victim was shot in the head and the other in the chest, Sheriff David Beth told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A third person suffered gunshot wounds not believed to be life-threatening.
“We were all chanting ‘Black lives matter’ at the gas station and then we heard, boom, boom, and I told my friend, ‘That’s not fireworks,’” 19-year-old protester Devin Scott told the Chicago Tribune. “And then this guy with this huge gun runs by us in the middle of the street and people are yelling, ‘He shot someone! He shot someone!’ And everyone is trying to fight the guy, chasing him and then he started shooting again.”
Scott said he cradled a lifeless victim in his arms, and a woman started performing CPR, but “I don’t think he made it.”
According to witness accounts and video footage, police apparently let the young man responsible for the shootings walk past them with a rifle over his shoulder as members of the crowd were yelling for him to be arrested because he had shot people.
Rittenhouse, identified in court papers as a lifeguard at a YMCA in Lindenhurst, Illinois, was assigned a public defender in Illinois for a hearing Friday on handing him over to Wisconsin authorities. The public defender’s office had no comment.
Much of Rittenhouse’s Facebook page is devoted to praising law enforcement, with references to Blue Lives Matter, a movement that supports police. He also can be seen holding an assault rifle.
Other photographs include those of badges of various law enforcement agencies, including the Chicago Police Department. All of the badges have a black line across them — something police officers do with black tape or other material whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty.
In a photograph posted by his mother, he is wearing what appears to be a blue law enforcement uniform as well as the kind of brimmed hat that state troopers wear. The teen was also a Public Safety Cadet for the Grayslake Police Department.
Rittenhouse is being held at the Hulse Juvenile Detention Center in Vernon Hills, awaiting extradition to Kenosha.
The sheriff told the Journal Sentinel that armed people had been patrolling Kenosha’s streets in recent nights, but he did not know if the gunman was among them.
“They’re a militia,” Beth said. “They’re like a vigilante group.”
The FBI said it is assisting in the case.
Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis did not condemn the armed groups.
“Across this nation, there have been armed civilians who have come out to exercise their constitutional right and to protect property, so I’m aware the groups exist? Yes. they were not invited to come,” he said.
He was pressed on whether he wanted armed militias on the streets.
“The term militia is used, it may be just armed citizens, it’s no different from protesters, mot going to address it. I’m not going to answer any more questions,” Miskinis said during a press conference.
The Kenosha County Sheriff was asked why deputies seemingly let the gunman walk past them. The suspect was seen on video walking toward police officials with his arms up.
“You have such incredible tunnel vision, you have no idea what’s outside if you’re looking out here,” Beth said.
The Kenosha mayor, John Antaramian, has called for an end to the vision and the beginning of dialogue.
“We need to stop to make sure that we help create and stop this divide and this anger that is going on in this country that only begins when we are willing to talk,” he said.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, said in an interview with the news program “Democracy Now!” that the shootings were not surprising and that white militias have been ignored for too long.
“How many times across this country do you see armed gunmen, protesting, walking into state Capitols, and everybody just thinks it’s OK?” Barnes said. “People treat that like it’s some kind of normal activity that people are walking around with assault rifles.”
Witness accounts and video show that the shootings took place in two stages: The gunman first shot someone at a car lot, then jogged away, stumbled and fell in the street, and opened fire again as members of the crowd closed in him.
A witness, Julio Rosas, 24, said that when the gunman stumbled, “two people jumped onto him and there was a struggle for control of his rifle. At that point during the struggle, he just began to fire multiple rounds and that dispersed people near him.”
“The rifle was being jerked around in all directions while it was being fired,” Rosas said.
Sam Dirks, 22, from Milwaukee, said he had seen the suspected gunman earlier in the evening, and he was yelling at some of the protesters.
“He was definitely very agitated. He was pacing around, just pointing his gun in general. Not necessarily at anyone specifically,” Dirks said.
In other widely circulating video, police can be seen tossing bottled water from an armored vehicle to what appear to be armed civilians walking the streets. One of the civilians appears to be the gunman who later shot protesters.
“We appreciate you being here,” an officer is heard saying to the group over a loudspeaker.
In Wisconsin, it is legal for people 18 and over to openly carry a gun, with no license required.
On Tuesday, Ben Crump, the lawyer for Blake’s family, said it would “take a miracle” for Blake to walk again. He called for the officer who opened fire to be arrested and for the others involved to lose their jobs.
Blake’s shooting was captured on cellphone video and ignited new protests in the U.S. three months after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer touched off a nationwide reckoning over racial injustice.
During the unrest in Kenosha since then, protesters destroyed dozens of buildings, set fires and hurled objects at police, who responded with tear gas on three straight nights.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday promised federal*re-enforcements for Kenosha. The president tweeted that he “will not stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets.” He said he spoke to the Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance — in supplementation to the Wisconsin National Guardsmen.
A group of Kenosha County supervisors sounded off Wednesday afternoon complaining that there’s been a lack of local leadership when it comes to the crisis response.
Zach Rodriguez, District 8 Kenosha County supervisor , and some of his colleagues on the board, said they are fed up with what they say has been an information vacuum from Beth.
“This is on the sheriff,” Rodriguez said. “The sheriff has yet to share any details with the county board. We have asked him this. How can we go home and put our constituents at ease?”
“We’re grateful that the governor has finally come to his senses and excepted the fact that we need federal help,” Terry Rose, District 2 Kenosha County supervisor, said.
Rose and his colleagues on the board spoke to reporters in front of a mangled pile of rubble that used to be the state of Wisconsin’s Community Corrections Center. The county supervisors also find fault with Tuesday night’s decision by law enforcement to force protesters to leave the park in front of the county courthouse.
“I observed the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department with assisting agencies and possibly the National Guard push the protesters out of the park and into the streets which as we all know tragically led to the death of two citizens,” Rodriguez said.
Fellow County Supervisor Andy Berg suggested that his Republican colleagues on the board are trying to politicize the crisis.
“If you look at those who were here many of them sit on the board of the county Republicans,” he said.
However, the small group of board members fired back saying it’s not a Democratic or a Republican issue it’s a public safety issue.
Due to the potential for civil unrest, there is also a curfew in effect in Antioch from 8 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday.