An Illinois teenager who fatally shot two people and wounded a third amidst sometimes violent summer protests on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges including intentional homicide. Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, entered his plea in a brief hearing conducted by teleconference that came as Kenosha was bracing for a charging decision in the event that brought Rittenhouse to the city in August—the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, who is white, left his home in Antioch, Illinois, and traveled to Kenosha after learning of a call to protect businesses after Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey on Aug. 23 and left paralyzed.
Rittenhouse opened fire with an assault-style rifle during protests two nights later, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse has argued he fired in self-defense. Conservatives have rallied around Rittenhouse, describing him as a patriot who took up arms to protect people and property, and raised enough money to make his $2 million cash bail. Others see him as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited protesters, the AP reports. Kenosha County DA Michael Graveley hasn’t publicly announced the timing of a decision on whether to charge Sheskey. But the city began moving in recent days to prepare for the event, with some businesses boarding their windows. Gov. Tony Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to help Kenosha authorities when the decision is announced.
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