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Rittenhouse, mother fixated on social media treatment

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An Illinois teen accused of killing two people during unrest in Wisconsin and the teen’s mom were fixated on social media comments about them in the hours after his August arrest, newly released police video shows.

Police in Antioch, Illinois, on Monday released four hours of video taken after Kyle Rittenhouse turned himself in hours after the Aug. 25 protest in Kenosha, the Chicago Tribune reported. The protest was part of a series of chaotic demonstrations that ensued after a white Kenosha officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back seven times during a domestic dispute. Rittenhouse is white.

Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, who was then 17, opened fire during the protest, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse faces various charges, including intentional homicide. He has argued he was protecting businesses and fired in self-defense. Conservatives have rallied around him, generating enough money to make his $2 million cash bail.

Cellphone video shows Rittenhouse walking past police in the moments after the shootings, his rifle slung over his shoulder and his hands in the air. Officers let him go, and he turned himself in to police in his hometown of Antioch the next day.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the police video shows Rittenhouse sobbing and hyperventilating. Investigators reminded him of his right to remain silent. Rittenhouse, who once participated in programs for aspiring officers, replied, “I know Miranda,” and said he wanted a lawyer.

Police left him in the interrogation room with his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, who spent the next several hours scrolling through her phone. At one point she put her head in her hands and lamented about people posting derogatory remarks about both of them on Facebook.

His mother told him he needed to deactivate his social media accounts.

“‘I have to get rid of social media?” he asked.

“Yep … ‘Cause they’re going to harass you if they can find you anywhere,” she said.

Rittenhouse said he couldn’t give her access to some accounts because the passwords were stored in his phone, which police had taken. He later asked an officer if detectives could delete his accounts. The officer said he would look into it.

In the audible parts of the video, Rittenhouse didn’t ask about the men he shot. He also didn’t appear to understand the seriousness of the situation, asking an officer if he could go home and if he could get counseling to help him cope.

“I don’t want to be one of those people that lives with PTSD the rest of their life,” he said.

Last week, a judge ordered ordered Rittenhouse to have no contact with known white supremacists after he was seen drinking in a bar in Mount Pleasant and posing for a photo with two men who made hand gestures used by white supremacists. Prosecutors also alleged men at the tavern serenaded Rittenhouse with the anthem of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group.

The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21 but Rittenhouse could legally drink alcohol because he was with his mother.

Rittenhouse is due back in court in Kenosha on March 10.

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