KENOSHA — Attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse have repeatedly said that the 17-year-old from Illinois, while cleaning in Kenosha early in the day on Aug. 25, met a business owner who invited Rittenhouse and others to help protect property that night. But the attorneys have not identified who it was that they say asked Rittenhouse to stand guard that night.
The first person killed by Rittenhouse — Joseph Rosenbaum, a 36-year-old Kenosha man who was charging at Rittenhouse when he was shot — was killed after 11 p.m. on Aug. 25 in a mostly empty parking lot owned by the local car dealership Car Source, 6226 Sheridan Road. The morning after, sponge rounds were scattered throughout the lot.
Last week, Anmol Khindri, who said he co-owns Car Source with his father, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that no one was asked to protect the business. “Why would I? ... I’m already burned out. There was nothing left to protect,” Khindri was quoted as saying.
Dozens of cars in a second lot owned by Car Source, located four blocks north at 5821 Sheridan Road, were destroyed by arsonists days before Rosenbaum was killed.
When The Journal Times called Car Source, a reporter spoke with a man who identified himself as an owner of the dealership but did not share his name. Speaking about Rittenhouse, that man said “I don’t know that guy. He came out of nowhere.” The man added that one of the reasons he didn’t ask anyone to protect his dealership was because “There was nothing to protect. All my inventory had already been burnt to the ground.”
The Journal Times then asked attorneys defending Rittenhouse, L. Lin Wood of Atlanta and John Pierce of Los Angeles, to clarify who it was that asked for the teenager’s help in defending property. In an email, Wood replied: “This is not the time or forum to discuss the underlying facts and evidence. That information will be forthcoming in the future ... At this time, I can tell you that all available video is being carefully reviewed/analyzed and witness statements are being obtained. All information received to date totally supports that Kyle acted in self-defense.”
Previously, Wood has said that the weapon Rittenhouse used that night was provided by someone in Wisconsin and that the gun never crossed state lines.
Rittenhouse faces two felony charges of first-degree intentional homicide, one charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. He also is charged with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. If convicted of either first-degree intentional homicide charge, Rittenhouse faces a minimum sentence of life in prison.
An online fundraiser to help Car Source has raised more than $44,000, but that money represents less than 2% of the estimated $2.5 million worth of property lost in the fires. On Sept. 1, the Department of Revenue filed a “delinquent tax warrant” against Car Source, online court records show.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has released photos in which it has identified “persons of interest” in arson fires started in Kenosha, although no arrests have been reported in those cases as of Thursday afternoon.
Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter
Get the latest in local public safety news with this weekly email.