Trump defends Kenosha protest shooter: ‘He probably would have been killed’

Images found on Kyle Rittenhouse’s social media show him in the front row of a rally for the president in January. Trump refused to condemn the teen's actions.

During a press conference on Monday, President Donald Trump refused to condemn the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha protest shooter. 

The 17-year-old crossed state lines from his home in Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin to act as a self-appointed security guard and medic in the wake of protests begun after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by Officer Rusten Sheskey. Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-15-type rifle. His age made his open carry illegal in the state. 

“He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like,” Trump said, noting the incident was under investigation. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.” 

Read More: Trump says BLM movement ‘bad for Black people’

Buzzfeed News had previously reported that Rittenhouse was an avid Trump supporter. The news outlet found images on the teen’s social media of him in the front row of a rally for the president in January of this year. 

The president referenced a partial video of the incident, which the young man’s attorney says shows that Rittenhouse fired his gun in self-defense. 

However, eyewitnesses told USA Today that Rittenhouse “looked like bad news.” 

Protests Erupt After Kenosha, WI Police Shoot Black Man 7 Times In The Back
Demonstrators revisit the site where a protester was shot and killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, allegedly by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

In an interview with The Daily Caller on the scene in Kenosha before the shooting, Rittenhouse said, “People are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business, and my job also is to protect people. If someone is hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle; I’ve gotta protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit.”

The president said that he plans to visit Kenosha Tuesday “to see the people that did such a good job for me” during the protests. He plans to meet with police officers. 

Read More: Trump, Portland mayor blame each other for violence after protester shot

The Democratic mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, opined on NPR Sunday that “it would have been, I think, better had he waited for another time to come.” 

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers also encouraged the president to delay his visit.

“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” the Democrat wrote in missive to the White House Sunday released by his office. “I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.” 

Trump defended his decision to visit Kenosha, saying his trip “could also increase enthusiasm, and it could increase love and respect for our country. And that’s why I’m going.” 

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