The mother of Kyle Rittenhouse has deflected the blame for her son’s alleged shooting of two men during protests in Wisconsin onto police and the governor.
Mr Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, was charged in the fatal shooting of two men and wounding of a third on 25 August during protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Mr Blake, 29, was shot in the back by police officer Rusten Sheskey on 23 August, leaving him paralyzed and causing the city of Kenosha to erupt in unrest.
“It’s a tragedy what happened to Mr Blake. It is,” Wendy Rittenhouse told The Chicago Tribune. “But my son and everybody else should not have been in Kenosha.”
“The police should have helped the businesses out instead of having a 17-year-old kid helping him,” she said. “The police should have been involved with these people that lost their businesses. They should have stepped up.”
While Ms Rittenhouse said she was not angry at the police as they “have a hard enough job as it is” she said Wisconsin Gov Tony Evers, a Democrat, should have deployed reinforcements to the city.
Ms Rittenhouse declined to discuss how her son acquired the weapon used in the shootings, but said she sees nothing wrong with teenagers possessing firearms.
Dominic Black, an 18-year-old friend of Mr Rittenhouse, told authorities that he purchased the weapon at a hardware store in Wisconsin and that Ms Rittenhouse had been planning to apply for a firearm owner’s ID card to legally keep the weapon.
A Kenosha County court commissioner ruled that Mr Rittenhouse would be a flight risk citing “the incredibly serious charges” and maintained his bail at $2m.
Ms Rittenhouse, a single mother of three, disputed that her son would be able to flee the area, saying: “I have $1.20 in my bank account. You think I can get on a plane.”
However, Mr Rittenhouse’s case has attracted significant support from conservative circles and amassed a substantial amount of money in donations.
Ms Rittenhouse’s attorney, John Pierce, said nearly $2m had been raised by a legal defence fund and a total of $100,000 had been raised for personal expenses for Ms Rittenhouse from two organizations that support gun rights and domestic militias.
Ms Rittenhouse and Mr Pierce said the teenager initially went to Kenosha to help remove graffiti from a school but later offered to help protect a car dealership that had come under attack by looters the night before.
His mother told The Tribune that he doesn’t belong to the Kenosha Guard or any militia group and prosecutors also have not suggested any connection between her son and militias.
Mr Black’s bail was set at $2,500 on felony charges that he supplied a dangerous weapon to a minor, causing death by a court commissioner on Monday.
Reporting by the Associated Press