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Arrest made after 2 killed at Wisconsin protest over police shooting of Jacob Blake

Illinois police arrested a 17-year-old on Wednesday after two people were shot to death during another night of Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wis.

Kenosha Police identify officer who shot Blake Sunday as 7-year veteran of the force

Gunfire erupted overnight at a protest in support of Jacob Blake, who was shot several times during an encounter with police in Kenosha, Wis., and remains in hospital. 1:00

At least one shooting in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday was captured by witness video. CBC News has edited the above video so as to not include moments depicting gunfire or any resulting injuries or deaths from gunfire.

The Wisconsin officer who shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back has been identified as a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, the state Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, 29, while holding onto his shirt after officers first unsuccessfully used a taser and as Blake leaned into his vehicle during an incident Sunday evening, the agency's news release said.

State agents later recovered a knife from the driver's side floorboard of the vehicle, the release said. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.

No charges were announced and the state's Department of Investigation was continuing to investigate.

Police in riot gear clear the area in front of Kenosha County Courthouse during clashes with protesters late Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (David Goldman/The Associated Press)

The shooting set off three nights of unrest in the city midway between Milwaukee and Chicago. Two people were shot and killed during protests Tuesday night.

Illinois police arrested a white 17-year-old on Wednesday in connection to the shooting. Kyle Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Ill., was taken into custody in Illinois on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide. Antioch is about 30 kilometres from Kenosha near the Illinois-Wisconsin border.

It was not immediately clear if Rittenhouse was being charged with one homicide or both.

Two people were killed Tuesday night and a third was wounded in an attack apparently carried out by a young white man who was caught on cellphone video opening fire in the middle of the street with a semi-automatic rifle.

"I just killed somebody," the gunman could be heard saying at one point during the rampage that erupted just before midnight.

WATCH l Clashes between protesters, police before shootings:

Protesters defied a curfew again overnight and many faced off against heavily armed police outside the Kenosha County courthouse. 0:57

Sheriff David Beth said one victim was shot in the head and another in the chest. The third victim's wounds were not believed to be life-threatening.

Beth, at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, said that the dead were a 36-year-old Kenosha resident and a 26-year-old from Silver Lake, Wis. The wounded person, a 36-year-old from West Allis, Wis., was expected to survive, police said.

According to witness accounts and video footage, police apparently let the young white man suspected of carrying out some or all of the shootings walk past them with a semi-automatic rifle over his shoulder as members of the crowd yelled for him to be arrested.

Asked why the gunman was allowed to leave, Beth portrayed a chaotic, high-stress scene, with screaming, chanting, nonstop radio traffic and "people running all over the place" — conditions that can cause "tunnel vision" among law officers.

Suspect praised police

Rittenhouse, identified in court papers as a lifeguard at a YMCA in Lindenhurst, Ill., was assigned a public defender in Illinois for a hearing Friday about his transfer to Wisconsin. The public defender's office had no comment. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.

Much of Rittenhouse's Facebook page is devoted to praising law enforcement, with references to Blue Lives Matter, a movement that supports police. He also can be seen holding an assault rifle.

Other photographs include those of badges of various law enforcement agencies, including the Chicago Police Department. All of the badges have a black line across them — something police officers do with black tape or other material whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty.

In a photograph posted by his mother, he is wearing what appears to be a blue law enforcement uniform as well as the kind of brimmed hat that state troopers wear.

Self-styled militias

The Kenosha protests have drawn self-styled militias, patrolling the streets with rifles or standing guard to prevent looters or arsonists.

Police said at the news conference no such groups were invited to help patrol the community, with Beth calling their presence unhelpful.

In the wake of the killings, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers authorized 500 members of the National Guard to support local law enforcement around Kenosha, doubling the number of troops sent in. The governor's office said he is working with other states to bring in additional National Guard troops and law officers. Authorities also announced a 7 p.m. curfew until at least Sunday.

Evers said in a statement: "A senseless tragedy like this cannot happen again."

"I again ask those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights please do so peacefully and safely, as so many did last night," said Evers. "I also ask the individuals who are not there to exercise those rights to please stay home and let local first responders, law enforcement and members of the Wisconsin National Guard do their jobs."

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted he would be authorizing federal agents to be sent to the area, though official details weren't immediately clear.

Witnesses describe frantic scene

Cellphone video of at least two of the shootings Tuesday night that was posted online shows what appears to be a white man with a semi-automatic rifle jogging down the middle of a street as a crowd and some police officers follow him. Someone in the crowd can be heard asking, "What did he do?" and another person responds that the man had shot someone.

The man with the gun stumbles and falls, and as he is approached by people in the crowd, he fires three or four shots from a seated position, hitting at least two people, including one who falls over and another who stumbles away to cries of "Medic! Medic!"

A witness, Julio Rosas, 24, said that when the gunman stumbled and fell, "two people jumped onto him, and there was a struggle for control of his rifle. At that point during the struggle, he just began to fire multiple rounds and that dispersed people near him."

"The rifle was being jerked around in all directions while it was being fired."

A man with a firearm raises his hands up as he walks toward police vehicles Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wis. (Brendan Gutenschwager/Reuters)

In the cellphone footage, as the crowd scatters, the gunman stands up and continues walking down the street as police cars arrive. The man puts up his hands and walks toward the squad cars, with someone in the crowd yelling at police that the man had just shot someone, but several of the cars drive past him toward the people who had been shot.

Kenosha police, a separate agency from the sheriff's office, asked for witnesses to come forward.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, said in an interview with Democracy Now!, a non-profit organization that produces a daily news program for public radio and the web, that the shootings were not surprising and that white militias have been ignored for too long.

"How many times across this country do you see armed gunmen, protesting, walking into state capitols, and everybody just thinks it's OK?" Barnes said. "People treat that like it's some kind of normal activity that people are walking around with assault rifles."

In Wisconsin, it is legal for people 18 and over to openly carry a gun, with no licence required.

'He shot someone!'

Devin Scott, 19, told the Chicago Tribune he was in a group chanting "Black Lives Matter" when the gunfire began and that he tried unsuccessfully to revive one of the victims.

"This guy with this huge gun runs by us in the middle of the street and people are yelling, 'He shot someone! He shot someone!' And everyone is trying to fight the guy, chasing him, and then he started shooting again," Scott said in the Tribune report.

Armed civilians were spotted earlier Tuesday near the Kenosha County Courthouse. Shootings erupted just before midnight, though police were still sorting out the circumstances. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Scott said he hit the ground during the next burst of gunfire, then tried to aid a person who was lying prone in the street.

"I was cradling him in my arms. I was trying to keep this kid alive, and he wasn't moving or nothing. He was just laying there," Scott said. "I didn't know what to do and then this woman starts performing CPR. There was no pulse. I don't think he made it."

Anti-racism protesters also clashed with police in Portland, Ore., and Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday night, part of a wave of national protests that have continued since the May 25 death of a Black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, who was pinned to the street under the knee of a white police officer.

During the encounter with police on Sunday, Blake broke free after struggling with police and walked away from them and around his car to the driver's side. He appeared to be shot while opening the car door, according to a bystander video that went viral. Three of his young sons were in the car, witnesses said.

The gun shots left Blake paralyzed and "fighting for his life" in a Milwaukee hospital, his family and lawyers said on Tuesday, hours before the latest round of civil unrest.

WATCH l More video emerges of police interaction with Jacob Blake:

New video shows Jacob Blake, from a different angle, before the 29-year-old Black man walked around his car to the driver's side and was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis. 0:44

On Tuesday, before the two deadly shootings, Kenosha County Board sent a letter to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers requesting that at least 2,000 more National Guard troops be sent. Evers initially dispatched 150 troops on Monday and increased that to 250 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the board sent a second request, for 1,500 troops.

"Our county is under attack. Our businesses are under attack. Our homes are under attack. Our local law enforcement agencies need additional support to help bring civility back to our community," board leaders wrote.

With files from Reuters

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