Republican US Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky is defending the teen charged with killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisc. — saying the alleged shooter showed “incredible restraint.”
Prosecutors say 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Illinois – a self-described militia member — allegedly shot dead two men and injured a third Aug. 25 during protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29.
Massie praised the accused gunman.
“He also exhibited incredible restraint and presence and situational awareness,” Massie said Thursday on WVHU, a talk-radio station in Huntington, W.Va., the Louisville Courier Journal reported. “He didn’t empty a magazine into a crowd.”
The teen allegedly shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, with a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle before slaying Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, in the arm.
Video footage shows people pursuing Rittenhouse shortly after he allegedly killed Rosenbaum and before he opened fire on Huber and Grosskreutz.
Rittenhouse – who was charged with six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide and attempted homicide – was defending himself from those zoning in on him, Massie said.
“The video of him running down the street and falling — he was fulfilling his obligation to retreat, right?” Massie said. “And then he fell down. And these – one tried to attack him with a skateboard, another pulled a handgun on him, the other tried to jump on him with his foot, and he responded in self-defense.
“I think the strongest thing he has for him is the actual video evidence,” Massie. “And if I were on a jury and all I had was the evidence that I have been able to acquire through social media and the videos that are out there, I would not convict him of a single one of these charges.
“What does it say about our country where this lawlessness is going on to this extent that a 17-year-old feels compelled to stop it?” the congressman said. “To be the one to turn the tide? I think it says a lot for the 17-year-old.”
The Kentucky Democratic party blasted Massie’s comments as “unbelievable” in a tweet.
“Thomas Massie defends accused Kenosha murderer Kyle Rittenhouse,” the tweet read. “The @kygop @Team_Mitch [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] and other Kentucky Republicans need to disavow Massie’s comments immediately.”