Soon after he shot three people, a panicked 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse told a friend he expected to go to jail for life, but that if he had not fired, he would “probably be dead.”
The account comes from a newly released video of a Kenosha detective questioning Dominick Black, the 19-year-old charged with buying Rittenhouse the rifle he used to kill two people and injure a third.
“The dude’s sweating like a pig. He’s just freaking out. His face is white,” Black said of Rittenhouse.
“He’s like, ‘I’m going to jail for the rest of my life. I’m done.’ He’s just scared. I’m just trying to calm him down.”
Rittenhouse was charged with two counts of homicide and faces four other charges in connection with the Aug. 25 Kenosha protest shootings that killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, 26.
He was released Friday afternoon from the Kenosha County Jail after his attorney posted the $2 million bail. His legal team has said he acted in self-defense.
Black faces charges of intentionally providing a dangerous weapon to a minor, resulting in death. He was bound over for trial earlier this week.
Black and Rittenhouse told police they had were in Kenosha to protect a car lot during the unrest that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Both were armed.
Detective Ben Antaramian questioned Black for about an hour the morning of Aug. 26 at the police station in Antioch, Illinois, where Rittenhouse had turned himself in.
The video adds more detail to documents released last month by Antioch police that described Black’s initial account to police there after the shooting. Rittenhouse’s sister also was questioned that night. A video of Rittenhouse’s interview has not yet been released.
Black: ‘The guns were just in case they shot at us’
Antaramian wanted to know how the two teens ended up in Kenosha that night.
Black told the detective he used to work for the owner of Car Source, where, the night before, a lot full of cars was set on fire. The owner was worried about his two other locations nearby.
“The owner asked us if we would go there,” Black said. “We could go on the roof, we could stand below, just make sure they don’t burn the whole place down or touch the cars.”
“We don’t point, we don’t shoot or anything. The guns were just in case they shoot at us,” he said, referring to protesters.
The owner, he said, left out a ladder so they could get on the roof. Their efforts were volunteer, not paid, Black said.
A co-owner of Car Source has told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he did not hire anyone to act as armed security, ask for their help or endorse it.
Black told the detective that many armed men he did not know joined their efforts, including a handful who said they had traveled from Canada. Some of the men referenced an online call from a group known as the Kenosha Guard for people to arm themselves and protect businesses.
Black recalled telling the men he was not a member of the group and was not involved with the Facebook post.
As he continued recounting his experience to the detective, Black said he did not think Rittenhouse was a member of the Kenosha Guard group, either, but was a member of a Facebook group supporting police officers. Black said he did not think that Facebook group had issued any similar call as the Kenosha Guard.
A sound of gunfire and then a call: ‘I just shot somebody’
Black stayed on the roof with his gun.
He watched as protesters got pushed away from the courthouse and split into smaller groups by riot trucks and police.
“They pushed them past us, and when they were going past us, they didn’t like that we were standing on the roof with guns and they started throwing rocks and whatnot at us,” he told the detective.
Rittenhouse had been stationed on the ground, at times offering people medical help. The group heard about people damaging cars on one of the lots with a baseball bat. Rittenhouse went to check it out and as he tried to get back to the building where Black was, he was blocked by police at the intersection.
“He was stuck on that side,” Black said.
Black could not see what happened next, but he heard it: four or five gunshots.
“I thought it was somebody in the crowd shooting like a pistol or it was the riot squad shooting like rubber bullets,” Black said. “I didn’t think it was him.”
Then, his phone rang. He answered and heard Rittenhouse say: “I just shot somebody, I just shot somebody.” The call ended.
The detective asked how Rittenhouse sounded.
“Frightened, scared and he’s out of breath,” Black replied.
Black could not see Rittenhouse.
At that time, a crowd chased after the teen, who tripped and fell, and was surrounded by people, according to police and court records. Rittenhouse later told police he was being attacked and fired his gun again. He killed a second man and wounded a third.
After that, Rittenhouse came back into Black’s view as he ran down the road, back toward the intersection where a squad car was parked. Black saw the rifle hanging from Rittenhouse’s neck as he approached a female officer on the passenger side window with his hands up.
“I see her point back and he throws his hands up in the air like he’s mad and then he starts running back to us,” Black said.
Rittenhouse said he ‘aimed center mass,’ acted in self-defense
After being turned away by police, Rittenhouse ran back to the business where Black tried to calm him down.
Rittenhouse told Black the same account that he later gave police: He was attacked and charged at by someone with a baseball bat before firing his weapon. Then, people chased him and he was hit in the head with a skateboard and possibly pieces of wood, which is when he fired again.
“He said he aimed center mass,” Black said. “… He said ‘If I wouldn’t have shot them, I’d probably be dead.’”
Video has captured Rittenhouse being hit with a skateboard, but no footage has emerged related to a baseball bat, and it was not mentioned in a video released by his defense team that portrays Rittenhouse’s actions as self-defense.
“After that, we decided … we’re going to get in my car, I’m going to drive out of here before anything bad else happens to you and you’re just going to go back home and you’re going to go to the police station,” Black said.
The detective asked Black if Rittenhouse mentioned other people having guns during the confrontation or shooting at him.
No, Black said.
“Knowing Kyle, he’s not really the kind of person that wants to shoot somebody, you know what I mean?” Black said. “He wants to be like a paramedic. … He just wants to help people, but he gets scared, you know what I mean? I don’t think he’d ever just want to be in a gunfight.”
How Rittenhouse got the rifle: ‘I could have stopped it’
The detective asked Black how Rittenhouse — who at 17 was too young to legally purchase a gun — had the firearm. Neither Rittenhouse nor his mother had a permit for a gun in Illinois.
“He bought it with his money, but I got it for him,” Black said.
Rittenhouse told the Washington Post he used coronavirus stimulus money to buy his gun after he was furloughed from his lifeguard job at a YMCA.
Police records show the weapon was purchased at an Ace Hardware store in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, and was stored at Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha until Black and Rittenhouse each took rifles downtown on Aug. 25.
“I don’t know why, the whole time I’m thinking, I’m like, he’s not 18,” Black told the detective. “Like in my head, I could have stopped it, but I know if I would have told him no, he would have threw a fit.”
Black said Rittenhouse had not taken a hunter safety course but had done a little shooting at a range up north. Black knew Rittenhouse for about a year because he was dating Rittenhouse’s sister.
He remembered telling Rittenhouse as they drove back to Antioch: “Dude, I think I’m going to be in more trouble than you because you defended yourself. In all reality, you’re not supposed to have that gun.”
They went to Rittenhouse’s apartment where they met Rittenhouse’s mom and sister. Rittenhouse told his mom what had happened.
The detective asked how his mom responded and Black chuckled.
“At first she was like … you got a choice: You gotta get out of town or you can turn yourself in to police … right now,” Black said.
Rittenhouse said he wanted to turn himself in.