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Rifle that Kyle Rittenhouse used in Kenosha shootings will be destroyed, prosecutor says

Kyle Rittenhouse walks in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020. (Adam Rogan/The Journal Times/AP)
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The rifle Kyle Rittenhouse used to shoot three people during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wis., is set to be destroyed, a prosecutor said Friday.

Judge Bruce Schroeder, who presided over Rittenhouse’s high-profile trial, approved an agreement to let the state destroy the assault-style weapon, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Rittenhouse, who was not in court for Friday’s hearing, was acquitted last year of charges — including homicide — after killing Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during unrest in Kenosha after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a police officer. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, said he fired in self-defense after the men attacked him. His trial highlighted a national divide between those who accused Rittenhouse of being a trigger-happy vigilante and others who viewed him as a hero for taking up arms to protect businesses from rioters.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger did not respond to requests for comment Friday evening.

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Dominick Black, a friend of Rittenhouse’s, said he bought the assault-style rifle for Rittenhouse because the teenager was too young to do so, and Black kept the weapon locked up in his Kenosha home.

When Kenosha was rocked by unrest in August 2020, Black testified, his stepfather removed that gun and others from the safe, and Rittenhouse retrieved it from their home on the day of the shootings.

Black pleaded no contest to two citations this month for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In exchange, prosecutors dropped two felony charges of intent to sell a dangerous weapon to a person younger than 18, the AP reported.

Mark Richards, Rittenhouse’s attorney, filed a motion on Jan. 19 to request the release of his personal property that was seized by police when he was arrested — including the rifle and ammunition, his cellphone, a cloth face mask, the clothes he was wearing and a $1 bill, court documents show.

According to the motion, the rifle “was to become the legal property of Kyle Rittenhouse upon his 18th birthday,” which was Jan. 3, 2021 — making Rittenhouse the lawful owner of the firearm “per the verbal contract enacted with Dominick Black,” Richards argued.

“Mr. Rittenhouse further wishes to ensure that the firearm in question is properly destroyed,” Richards wrote in the motion.

Richards did not respond to requests for comment Friday evening.

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Speaking to reporters last week after the hearing, Richards said his client’s desire to destroy his personal items stems from not wanting them to be used as a political symbols, the AP reported.

“We didn’t think anyone should profit from it,” Richards told reporters. When asked whether anyone had reached out about purchasing the gun, he said: “Lots of people.”

The rest of Rittenhouse’s possessions have been returned, Binger said in the hearing, and the firearm probably will be destroyed in April.

For now, the gun will remain locked up at the Kenosha Police Department’s secure evidence bureau.

“It will not be in anyone’s possession,” he said.

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