When Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly shot and killed two people and seriously wounded another man in August during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wis., he used an assault rifle that authorities said a friend had bought for him.
Prosecutors have charged that friend, 19-year-old Dominick David Black, with two felony counts of intentionally selling a gun to a minor. Black made his first court appearance on Monday in the Kenosha County Circuit Court.
Authorities say Black bought the rifle in April for Rittenhouse, who then allegedly used the gun on Aug. 25 to shoot and kill Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and to seriously injure Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, during civil unrest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black Kenosha resident.
Rittenhouse, who faces six charges, including intentional homicide, has not denied being the gunman in the fatal shootings; his lawyers say he acted in self-defense. “Kyle did nothing wrong,” his lawyers said in a September statement. “He exercised his God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense.”
Black’s attorney, Robert Keller, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his client had no criminal history, but otherwise did not comment on the charges against the teen. Keller did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday.
According to police records filed in the criminal cases, Black purchased the gun in Ladysmith, Wis., using Rittenhouse’s money earlier this year and intended it to be used during hunting trips. He stored the gun at his stepfather’s home in Kenosha.
After police shot Blake, 29, in the back at least seven times as he reached into his vehicle, peaceful daytime protests preceded nighttime riots and violent clashes with police in Kenosha, about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. As the protests worsened, Black’s stepfather took the guns out of a locked safe where they were usually stored, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Armed men with ties to extremist groups flocked to the city, ostensibly to protect private property from protesters. Black allegedly asked Rittenhouse if the 17-year-old wanted to come to Kenosha to help protect a local business.
Black told police he worried about Rittenhouse wielding the gun, but he thought his friend “would have thrown a fit” if he tried to stop him, the Associated Press reported.
After the shootings, Black allegedly drove Rittenhouse back to his home in Antioch, Ill., with the rifle in his trunk, and then kept the guns in Wisconsin, according to court records.
When Black later spoke with police, he admitted he was also armed with a rifle at the car dealership, where Rittenhouse allegedly shot Rosenbaum in the parking lot, according to court records released after a lawsuit filed by the Journal Sentinel and reviewed by The Washington Post.
Black allegedly told Rittenhouse after the shootings that he knew it was illegal to buy the gun for his underage friend, according to police records. Black allegedly told the younger teen that he was worried he would be in “more trouble” for buying the gun than Rittenhouse would face for pulling the trigger.
“In all reality, you are not supposed to have that gun,” Black allegedly told Rittenhouse after the shooting, according to police records. “That gun was in my name.”
Although Black was allegedly on the roof of the dealership when the shootings happened and didn’t see the incidents, he later identified Rittenhouse as the shooter in multiple videos, according to a criminal complaint in the case.
Black’s next court date is set for Nov. 19. Rittenhouse has another hearing scheduled on Dec. 3.
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