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Why We’ve Decided to Tell You the Criminal Records of the Men Shot in Kenosha


Update: A Wisconsin judge delayed the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum & Anthony Huber in Kenosha last summer. The trial is set to begin November 1st, 2021.

We’ve decided to tell you the criminal histories of the three men, including Joseph Rosenbaum & Anthony Huber who were shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Here’s why.

We think the public is entitled to know all of the context to properly understand what unfolded that night. The Kenosha County District Attorney has charged Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, with first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of Anthony M. Huber; with first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting death of Joseph D. Rosenbaum; and with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. Read the criminal complaint here. Rittenhouse’s attorney says he acted in self-defense when attacked by what the lawyer called a vicious mob. You can read the lawyer’s statement here.

(Note: See some of our other exclusives here, including video of arson suspects starting a Kenosha business on fire, and an eyewitness who says he saw a man with a walkie-talkie directing carloads of people right before the arson fires broke out. We also found shell casings Kenosha police missed at the first Rittenhouse shooting scene. Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, argued that readers shouldn’t get to know the shot men’s criminal records. Read our column explaining why they’re wrong here.)

Gaige Grosskreutz, Joseph Rosenbaum & Anthony Huber Criminal Records Explored

The media have largely sanitized the criminal histories of these three men. Rosenbaum was a registered sex offender who was out on bond for a domestic abuse battery accusation and was caught on video acting aggressively earlier that night. Huber was a felon convicted in a strangulation case who was recently accused of domestic abuse. Grosskreutz was convicted of a crime for use of a firearm while intoxicated and was armed with a handgun when shot. You can read their criminal records in full later in this article.

Newly released documents obtained by Wisconsin Right Now from the Pima County (Arizona) Clerk of Courts confirm Rosenbaum was charged by a grand jury with 11 counts of child molestation and inappropriate sexual activity with children, including anal rape. The victims were five boys ranging in age from nine to 11 years old. He was convicted of two amended counts as part of a plea deal. See those documents here.

Here’s a video that shows Rosenbaum acting aggressively shortly before the shooting. He’s in the red shirt.

To be clear, we don’t think the criminal history of everyone shot and killed is relevant in crime stories. We also don’t believe that anyone deserves to be shot because they have a criminal history, and that’s true of these three men. We also acknowledge that human beings are complex, and the men surely had good aspects to their personalities.

What makes their criminal histories relevant for the public to at least consider: The three men who were shot had placed themselves in the midst of a scene of violent unrest that, for days, included lawless anarchy (there were arson fires in the area that night too), and the suspect is on video saying earlier that he was there to prevent damage to people and property. All three men were confronting Rittenhouse when shot and two were trying to grab his gun; in the first case, Rittenhouse was running away, and in the second situation, he tried to but fell. That’s from the criminal complaint.

Rosenbaum was also caught on video using a racial slur earlier that night. “Shoot me (n word),” he says in the video. Multiple eyewitnesses told Wisconsin Right Now at the scene that they believe Rittenhouse was arguing with men who were starting an arson fire before the shootings because he was upset about the fire. Video does show a dumpster fire.

The witnesses believed this ignited the argument between Rittenhouse and the first victim. The complaint does not explain what authorities believe instigated that first argument. It’s certainly consistent with Rittenhouse’s behavior earlier in the night, though, as he was seen cleaning up graffiti, protecting a used car lot (used car lots had already been targets of serious vandalism and arson), and walking around with a medic bag.

“A person with the red shirt was arguing,” Delreno Jackson, one of those witnesses, said in an interview at the scene. Rosenbaum was wearing a red shirt that night. Jackson said that a garbage can was thrown after the shooter was upset that Black Lives Matter protesters were lighting a fire. We observed the garbage can lying toppled over in the street inside the crime scene tape. Video does mention a man in a red shirt being in a confrontation with Rittenhouse in the earlier shooting.

The criminal complaint alleges that Rosenbaum was trailing Rittenhouse, threw a plastic bag at him, initially tried to engage him, advanced toward him, and was trying to grab Rittenhouse’s gun when he was shot. It says that Rittenhouse, 17, was trying to evade Rosenbaum. The New York Times says a gunshot fired by an unknown person was heard right before Rittenhouse fired. Others were also chasing Rittenhouse at the time, video shows.

Some believe Rittenhouse has a self-defense argument, which would make the perceived or real dangerousness of men confronting or trailing him more arguably relevant.

The complaint says Huber was also trying to grab Rittenhouse’s gun and his skateboard made physical contact with Rittenhouse right before Rittenhouse shot him. Rittenhouse fell after being chased down the street, and photos and videos show him being struck with the skateboard as multiple people come toward him.

Huber’s loved ones have called him a hero, a narrative widely circulating online. Was he? Could the truth be complicated? Is it at least possible that Huber thought he was confronting an active shooter (which would certainly be a heroic act) because he didn’t see what happened in the earlier shooting with Rosenbaum, but Rittenhouse thought he was being attacked, first by Rosenbaum and then by Huber and others? Huber’s shooting occurred seconds after another unidentified man jumped at and over Rittenhouse, who fired at him, but missed, the complaint says. “Get his ass,” someone shouted around this time.

Grosskreutz was moving toward Rittenhouse when shot and holding a handgun, the complaint says.

There are certainly questions about why a 17-year-old had also injected himself, without parental supervision, into a scene of criminal unrest, carrying a gun he wasn’t old enough to lawfully display. We would print Rittenhouse’s criminal history too, but the only thing that comes up for him in Wisconsin courts is two traffic tickets (and the extradition case in Illinois.) People are spreading the criminal record of another Kyle Rittenhouse around the Internet, but that man is much older and isn’t him.

For all of these reasons, we have decided not to censor the men’s criminal histories. You can decide how relevant you think they are, if at all:

Joseph Rosenbaum