“I don’t want to shoot anybody. I just got my EMT license” – Kyle Rittenhouse
A new eyewitness to Kyle Rittenhouse’s shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum could get the teenager acquitted of murder charges. However, until now, the combat veteran and former Air Force firearms instructor has never told his story, and he’s never been interviewed by the Rittenhouse defense team or the police, who appear to not know he exists.
This witness, Jon, 43, tells Wisconsin Right Now in an exclusive interview that he observed Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse in what he described as an “aggressive” and “predatory fashion” right before gunfire rang out and then Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum. We know Jon’s last name and occupation, but we agreed not to print them because he’s afraid he could be targeted due to the incendiary nature of the situation. Rittenhouse is in court for an arraignment on January 5; he entered not guilty pleas.
Furthermore, he says that Rittenhouse told him, “I don’t want to shoot anybody. I just got my EMT license,” before the shootings. “He was like a little kid,” proud he got the license, the witness said.
There’s a well-known video that captures Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse, of course; but the eyewitness’s account is a vivid description of what he saw go down as the videographer filmed nearby. “My angle was different,” he says of the video. “The camera wasn’t pointed there when it first happened.” The witness was standing across the street at the eastern edge of Sheridan Road, about 40 yards away. He said this of Rosenbaum:
“It was that aggressive posture, I would even go so far as to say predatory – not ‘I am just going to jog up and catch up to him.’ He (Rosenbaum) was intent, and that moment (when Rittenhouse fired) he was about to leap,” said the witness. “I would absolutely say with zero reservation that the first shoot was a self defense shooting.”
Video continues to trickle out. I would like to know too.
Previously unseen footage of the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting in Kenosha. He was being pursued by Rosenbaum before a single shot rang out, followed by four more shots. pic.twitter.com/QPWLPz3ppe
— President-Elect Andrew Beverley (@AndrewBVCU) August 29, 2020
“In my opinion, he (Rosenbaum) was trying to murder that boy,” Jon said of Rittenhouse. Asked why he believed that, he said, “The exceptionally aggressive posture. How aggressively he was pursuing. He was really leaned into. He was just about to lunge. He (Rittenhouse) was running away and losing ground.”
The witness account could be persuasive to a jury because he’s a completely objective party. He was working in the area that night, which is why he was in the area. He had told Rittenhouse and other militia members why he was there for work before the shootings, so they wouldn’t get the wrong idea, and that’s when he says Rittenhouse made the above comment about not wanting to shoot anyone. The witness is not a member of either the protesters or counter protesters.
Furthermore, Jon is exceptionally well-trained to perceive a threat or non-threat; “I was military law enforcement,” he says. He spent nine years as a military police officer for the U.S. Army, and eight years as security police for the U.S. Air Force. He served three overseas combat tours, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says he was also a firearms instructor for the Air Force.
Now that it is confirmed Joseph Rosenbaum was one of the people shot and killed by alleged gunman Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, I filmed him earlier in the night taunting the armed civilians, saying, "Shoot me, n***a." pic.twitter.com/Nn2encm78Y
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) August 27, 2020
Rittenhouse ran down the road and shot and killed Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz next. Huber struck him with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz was moving toward him with gun in hand. Jon, the eyewitness, did not see those shootings, but he believes that Rittenhouse acted in self defense in the first shooting and that Huber and Grosskreutz may have then inaccurately believed that he was an active shooter, whereas Rittenhouse may have believed he was still under attack. The witness didn’t see those shootings because he was too busy helping a wounded Rosenbaum.
Here’s what else he says happened that night:
He saw a group of “militia guys” at the car dealership that Rittenhouse was guarding that night before the shooting. There were about a half dozen of them. “More folks were showing up at all times.”
He noticed Rittenhouse. “He was standing there talking to the guy in the pit helmet. We rolled up.”
Jon and the person he was with said, “Hey, don’t shoot us,” and explained the job they were doing. An older “militia guy was making stupid comments,” but Jon says that’s when Rittenhouse said, “I don’t want to shoot anybody. I just got my EMT license.”
Jon noticed Rittenhouse had a “rifle strapped across his chest.” He also noted that he was “so young looking.” They moved on their way.
The sun went down, and the police pushed the crowd out of the park. “The crowd starts coming along.”
About a minute before the Rosenbaum shooting, he saw a “half a dozen guys show up out of nowhere with sticks and pipes who start smashing vehicles in that car dealer lot.” That’s the lot Rittenhouse would soon be chased to.
“I see a flash of light out of a corner of my eye. A dude casually tosses a firebomb into the vehicle.”
He saw Rosenbaum with a T-shirt tied around his head. “I hear a shot. A single shot. I didn’t see where it came from.” (Another man has been accused by authorities of discharging that gunshot into the air.)
He took cover and was “peeking over the engine block. I saw Kyle running away from someone who was gaining on him. The guy had a T-shirt wrapped around his face, and he was gaining on him rapidly, and then Kyle shot four rounds as he was fleeing.”
After Kyle opened fire he “lost sight” of Rittenhouse because of the vehicle.
“The crowd started panicking. The dude with all the cameras sheltered behind my vehicle.” He said he’s a silhouette in some of the video footage, although he personally doesn’t have video footage.
He saw someone rip Rosenbaum’s shirt off to start rendering aid. “The majority of folks standing around at that moment were just taking video,” he said.
People picked up Rosenbaum and put him in Jon’s truck so he could get help.
“He was not going to get away from this guy,” Jon says of Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum. “It was absolutely self defense in my opinion.”
Prosecutors said Rosenbaum also tossed a bag at Rittenhouse. Jon says he didn’t see what was in it.
He believes that it’s possible that, down the road, Huber and Grosskreutz “thought they were stopping an evil active shooter. With the amount of chaos and confusion going on, I’m willing to give them benefit of the doubt.”
But he noted that, in one of the other videos, Rittenhouse avoided shooting another man who ran up to him because the man backed off and “Kyle recognized there was no threat” from that man.
He said there was confusion that night between Rittenhouse and another man who was dressed similarly, wearing a green shirt. But he’s not positive why Rosenbaum started chasing Rittenhouse.
He insisted he is “just trying to be objective with the whole thing. There are too many extreme feelings on both ends.”
Jon doesn’t think Rittenhouse did everything right that night. “Do I think he was making a wise decision even being here? No. But this was not a situation he could have predicted.”
As a lay person, he believes that the “one weapon charge will stick and the rest will go self defense.”
We previously interviewed witnesses who saw Rittenhouse with a fire extinguisher before Rosenbaum started chasing him (he’s captured on video carrying it).
Rosenbaum had been accused of violence before.
He was convicted of molesting and being sexually inappropriate toward children in Arizona (the criminal complaint in Arizona accuses him of the anal rape of young boys). That landed him on the Wisconsin sex offender registry when he moved here. He had open cases for domestic abuse battery and bail jumping at the time of his death.
According to Justice Putnam, who was present at the scene that night, Rosenbaum was “irate and looking for some kind of altercation.” Video also bears this out; there’s video showing Rosenbaum aggressively confronting another person in a gas station parking lot shortly before the shooting and using the “N” word.
On Aug. 27, The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office charged Kyle H. Rittenhouse with one count of 1st-degree intentional homicide, one count of 1st-degree reckless homicide, two counts of 1st-degree recklessly endangering safety, and one count of attempt 1st-degree intentional homicide, all with a use of a dangerous weapon modifier. He was also charged with one count of possess dangerous weapon-person < 18. You can read more about the charges here. He was later hit with a curfew charge, even though curfew was widely not being enforced in Kenosha.
The riots sparked after the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer. The decision on whether to charge or clear the officer is expected January 5.