Fact Check: Alleged Kenosha Shooter Kyle Rittenhouse Did NOT Have Lengthy Criminal History

Fact Check

  • by: Eric Ferkenhoff
Fact Check: Alleged Kenosha Shooter Kyle Rittenhouse Did NOT Have Lengthy Criminal History Wrong Records

Did 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse have a long and violent criminal past before the fatal shootings of two people and the wounding of a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin? No, that is not true. A search of databases in Wisconsin and Illinois reveal that another, older man by the same first and last name has a record that is falsely being attributed to the 17-year-old Rittenhouse in social media posts. The Kyle H. Rittenhouse accused in the Kenosha shootings has minor traffic citations in Wisconsin. The only other charges against him stem from the Aug. 25, 2020, shootings.

The Rittenhouse criminal history claim appears in a post (archived here) published on Facebook on Aug. 26, 2020. The post read, in part:

17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse-Lewis' mom Wendy drove him and his AR-15 rifle from Antioch, IL to Kenosha WI to "defend" businesses that he does not own from riots.
He ended up shooting 3 people, 2 died and 1 lost his arm.

Since some people are always quick to pull up shooting victims prior criminal history in order to justify their ill fate, I thought I'd post the shooters instead.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Sep 2 13:54:46 2020 UTC)

This post, which shows a picture of Rittenhouse in a police cadet uniform, along with his mother, is false on at least two fronts.

First, there is no evidence revealed by investigators that Rittenhouse's mother provided his transportation to Kenosha, site of a protest against racial injustice in the wake of Jacob Blake, 29, getting shot seven times by police on August 23.

Second, the post gives an inacurate picture of Rittenhouse's past by combining the information of a 31-year-old man with the same first and last names, but a different middle name.

Here is how the rest of the post read:

His prior criminal history,
In 2018, he has a charge for disobeying officers.

2016

Case Number: 2016CM000410
Case Type: MISDEMEANOR
Classification: MISDEMEANOR CLASS A
Counts: 1
Crime Type: MISDEMEANOR
Degree Of Offense: MISD. A
Crime County: ROCK
Offense Code: 941.20(1)(B)
Offense Date: 01/29/2016
Offense Description: OPERATE FIREARM WHILE INTOXICATED
Charges Filed Date: 03/01/2016
County: ROCK
Plea: NOT GUILTY
Disposition: CHARGE DISMISSED BUT READ IN
Disposition Date: 10/04/2016
Status: CLOSED
DISORDERLY CONDUCT

2016

Case Number: 2016CM000410
Case Type: MISDEMEANOR
Classification: MISDEMEANOR CLASS B
Counts: 1
Crime Type: MISDEMEANOR
Degree Of Offense: MISD. B
Crime County: ROCK
Offense Code: 947.01(1)
Offense Date: 01/29/2016
Offense Description: DISORDERLY CONDUCT
Charges Filed Date: 03/01/2016
County: ROCK
Plea: NO CONTEST
Disposition: GUILTY DUE TO NO CONTEST PLEA
Disposition Date: 10/04/2016
Status: CLOSED
POSSESSION OF THC

2016

Case Number: 2016CM000410
Case Type: MISDEMEANOR
Classification: MISDEMEANOR
Counts: 1
Crime Type: MISDEMEANOR
Degree Of Offense: MISD. U
Crime County: ROCK
Offense Code: 961.41(3G)(E)
Offense Date: 01/29/2016
Offense Description: POSSESSION OF THC
Charges Filed Date: 03/01/2016
County: ROCK
Plea: NOT GUILTY
Disposition: CHARGE DISMISSED BUT READ IN
Disposition Date: 10/04/2016
Status: CLOSED
POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA

2016

Case Number: 2016CM000410
Case Type: MISDEMEANOR
Classification: MISDEMEANOR
Counts: 1
Crime Type: MISDEMEANOR
Degree Of Offense: MISD. U
Crime County: ROCK
Offense Code: 961.573(1)
Offense Date: 01/29/2016
Offense Description: POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
Charges Filed Date: 03/01/2016
County: ROCK
Plea: NOT GUILTY
Disposition: CHARGE DISMISSED BUT READ IN
Disposition Date: 10/04/2016
Status: CLOSED
FAILURE TO OBEY TRAFFIC OFFICE...

2018

Case Number: 2018TR011432
Classification: FORFEITURE U
Counts: 1
Offense Code: 346.04(2)
Offense Date: 08/09/2018
Offense Description: FAILURE TO OBEY TRAFFIC OFFICER/SIGNAL
Charges Filed Date: 08/13/2018
Plea: NO CONTEST
Disposition: GUILTY DUE TO NO CONTEST PLEA
Disposition Date: 09/18/20

White Supremacist would be quick to state that he's a drug addict and a criminal IF he was a POC. They would say he deserves everything that happened to him. Instead they're calling him a "patriot" and started a GoFundMe account for his legal fees.

The listed cases in the post do not belong to the 17-year-old charged in the August 25 shootings. As the below screenshot shows, most belong to Kyle Joseph Rittenhouse, who was born in April of 1989, is 31 and lives in Clinton, Wisconsin. The 17-year-old accused shooter is Kyle Howard Rittenhouse, born in January of 2003, from Antioch, Illinois.

Screen Shot 2020-09-02 at 11.02.15 AM.png

The traffic citations from August 19 do belong to alleged shooter Rittenhouse, who lives in Antioch, about 20 miles from Kenosha. He is currently being held in Illinois, according to Lake County, Illinois court records, pending a September 25 hearing on his transfer to Wisconsin to face charges in the killings. The August 27 case refers to the killings of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. Also wounded in the shooting was Gaige Grosskreutz, 26

According to the Wisconsin Circuit Court website, Rittenhouse currently faces two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by someone under age 18:

Screen Shot 2020-09-02 at 10.42.28 AM.pngThere is no evidence, as suggested in the post, that Grosskreutz has lost his arm. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that, in fact, he should be able to keep his arm, though he will need reconstructive surgery to repair it. A family friend told the paper that he "lost his bicep."

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  Eric Ferkenhoff

Eric Ferkenhoff has been a reporter, editor and professor for 27 years, working chiefly out of the Midwest and now the South. Focusing on the criminal and juvenile justice systems, education and politics, Ferkenhoff has won several journalistic and academic awards and helped start a fact-checking project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he continues to teach advanced reporting. Ferkenhoff also writes and edits for the juvenile justice site JJIE.org.

 

Read more about or contact Eric Ferkenhoff

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