Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie defended accused Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse and said he showed 'incredible restraint' in shooting 3 people

  • Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, defended accused Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse in a radio interview earlier this week.
  • Police say Rittenhouse, 17, shot three people during an August protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two.
  • Local authorities charged Rittenhouse with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a deadly weapon following the August 25 shooting.
  • "I would not convict him of a single one of these charges," Massie said Thursday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky in an interview Thursday defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of shooting three people and killing two of them, during an anti-racism protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August.

"He also exhibited incredible restraint and presence and situational awareness," Massie said in a radio interview with WVHU. "He didn't empty a magazine into a crowd. There were people around him who could have caused him harm, but as soon as they showed any sign of retreat or nonaggression, he did not shoot them. He exhibited more restraint than a lot of the police videos I've seen."

Local authorities charged Rittenhouse with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a deadly weapon following the August 25 shooting. Rittenhouse, who previously attended a rally for the president and expressed support for Blue Lives Matter, reportedly shot the first victim after the man threw a plastic bag at him, according to the criminal complaint filed against the 17-year-old.

Following the first shooting, video of the incident shows a crowd chased a person believed to be Rittenhouse before an ensuing struggle that ended when Rittenhouse fired his semiautomatic weapon at two people in close range, fatally wounding one of them.

Rittenhouse wouldn't be arrested until the following day.

"He was fulfilling his obligation to retreat, and then he fell down, and these, one tried to attack him with a skateboard, another pulled a handgun on him, another tried to jump on him with his foot, and he responded in self-defense," Massie said in the interview with radio host Tom Roten.

"I would not convict him of a single one of these charges," Massie added.

As Insider previously noted, Rittenhouse told the conservative outlet The Daily Caller he traveled to Kenosha from Illinois to protect businesses amid chaotic anti-racism demonstrations in the city that occurred following the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in the city.

Massie also said Thursday that he was "not as aware of that situation" of Blake as he was as Rittenhouse, who was shot multiple times by police in the back on August 23, which sparked the events in Kenosha that lead up to the shootings two days later.

"It needs to be reviewed, everybody gets a trial," Massie said of the police shooting of Blake.

When asked about Rittenhouse and the president's refusal to condemn the actions of his supporters, like Rittenhouse, in an interview earlier this week, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Trump was "on the side of law enforcement and the rule of law." On Monday, the president defended Rittenhouse at a press conference.

As Insider's Kelly McLaughlin noted, experts have said the president's refusal to condemn the accused Kenosha killer could ratchet up tensions, as the right continues to view Rittenhouse as a symbol for their cause in favor of gun rights and against the anti-racism protests.

"That was an interesting situation," Trump said on Monday. "He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him."

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