Witnesses say Kyle Rittenhouse faced violence, death threats before fatal shootings: ‘He reached for the weapon’

Prosecutors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial have portrayed the teen as an “active shooter” who was out for blood when he shot and killed two protesters during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020.

That narrative took some heavy blows Thursday when witnesses said Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person Rittenhouse shot, was being “hyperaggressive” and had threatened to kill Rittenhouse before reaching for his gun, as CBS News reported.

Witnesses recall threats toward teen

Rittenhouse, then 17, was in Kenosha protecting property from rioters in August 2020 when he encountered Rosenbaum, a 36-year old registered sex offender, at a used car dealership.

According to CBS, Ryan Balch, an Army veteran who was with Rittenhouse that night, testified that he interacted with Rosenbaum earlier that evening and that the man was “hyperaggressive and acting out in a violent manner” that made other protesters uncomfortable.

When Balch got between Rosenbaum and a man who had tried to stop him from starting a fire, Rosenbaum flew into a rage, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If I catch any of you guys alone tonight I’m going to f*****g kill you!” he shouted, in an apparent warning to Rittenhouse.

More damning, perhaps, was the testimony from Daily Caller journalist Richie McGinniss, who said that Rosenbaum charged Rittenhouse and lunged for his gun, as CBS reported. When prosecutor Thomas Binger claimed that McGinniss was engaged in “guesswork,” McGinniss made a blunt reply.

“Well,” McGinniss said, “he said, ‘F*** you,’ and then he reached for the weapon.”

Rittenhouse facing life in prison

The prosecution argues that Rittenhouse was the aggressor, according to FOX6 News in Milwaukee, but the defense says the shoe is on the other foot and that Rosenbaum “lit the fuse” that led Rittenhouse to shoot Rosenbaum and eventually two other people.

Police detective Martin Howard testified Wednesday that Rittenhouse was shouting “friendly! friendly!” as Rosenbaum, who came out from hiding behind a car, chased him, according to Fox News. What’s more, a man named Joshua Ziminski reportedly fired one shot into the air seconds before Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum.

After shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse retreated toward police down Sheridan Road with a mob in pursuit.

After getting punched and kicked, Rittenhouse was lying on the ground when Anthony Huber, 26, attacked him with a skateboard and reached for his gun. Rittenhouse shot Huber, fatally. Rittenhouse then shot and injured another man, Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, as he approached him with his own gun in his hands, CBS reports.

The teen is facing life in prison if convicted.

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