Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all charges

Plus, what people are saying about the verdict — social media reactions fall on both sides of racial divide, gun debate

Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty in the killing of two men and the wounding of a third last year during a tumultuous night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rittenhouse appeared emotional as the verdicts were read, his face trembling in the courtroom Friday after the judge admonished those present from making any reaction.

The families of the two men who were fatally shot last year were summoned to the courtroom moments before the jury forewoman announced that the jury had unanimously found Rittenhouse innocent.

Once the verdicts were read, Rittenhouse broke down in tears and hugged one of his attorneys.

Judge Bruce Schroeder thanked the jury for their efforts and sent them home.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers pleaded for calm and said 500 National Guard members would be ready to move into Kenosha if violence erupted.

The verdict was reached after nearly four days of deliberations in which one juror asked if she could take home the jury instructions.

The 18-year-old had previously faced life in prison for the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26; and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, who is now 28, but he will now be set free after not guilty verdicts o charges of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering.

During the trial, Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense, claiming he had fired his AR-15 style rifle in self-defense and that he feared for his own life during the chaos of the night.

The verdict came two days after Rittenhouse’s attorneys called on the judge to declare a mistrial, claiming the defense team was given an inferior copy of a potentially critical video from prosecutors. It was the second mistrial motion from the defense in a week that have now become moot in the wake of the not-guilty verdicts.

Previously Rittenhouse had also faced the charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, a misdemeanor that Judge Schroeder dismissed before jury deliberations began.

In another unusual development Thursday, Schroeder banned MSNBC from the courthouse after a freelancer was accused of following the jurors in their bus.

Last week, the defense asked for a mistrial with prejudice, meaning Rittenhouse could not be put on trial again. That request was prompted by what the defense said were improper questions asked by prosecutor Thomas Binger during his cross-examination of Rittenhouse, The Associated Press reported.

Rittenhouse, a then-17-year-old former police youth cadet, said he went to Kenosha armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to protect property from rioters.

The protests during the summer of 2020 were fueled by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who survived after being shot in the back multiple times.

The Rittenhouse case became a central flashpoint in the debate over guns, racial injustice, vigilantism and self-defense in the U.S.

Conservative voices around the country, including those on Fox News and then-President Donald Trump, hailed the teen as a hero who simply exercised his Second Amendment gun rights. Former actor Rick Schroeder helped pay for his bail as he awaited trial and more than $2 million was raised toward his legal defense.

The verdict prompted some strong reactions on social media.