GOP lawmaker says fatal shooting at Kenosha protest ‘100% justified self defense’

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) reacted to online footage showing the moment a gunman appears to shoot at people at a protest in Kenosha, Wis., by characterizing the man’s actions as “justified self defense.”

“100% justified self defense. Do not try to take a weapon away from a man or bear the consequences,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “The criminals here: Kenosha local government that allows the riots, burning and looting night after night. Armed citizens defending themselves will fill the vacuum.”

Gosar’s comments came in response to graphic footage posted online that has been widely circulated this week in which a man could be seen appearing to fire several shots at people in Kenosha late Tuesday.

Toward the start of the clip, the man can be seen falling to the ground with a firearm in hand as several more people follow behind him. One person among the crowd can be heard saying off-camera, “He shot someone.” The gunman then appears to fire several shots, hitting one person, before coming to his feet.

The man then begins to walk toward a group of law enforcement vehicles with a gun and with his hands up but does not appear to be apprehended.

Authorities in Kenosha said two people were fatally shot and one person was wounded in the shooting at the protest Tuesday. The protest came in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back by police late Sunday as he tried to enter his vehicle.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Ill., has been identified as the suspect in the shooting and has been charged with intentional homicide.

According to CNN, the teen was previously a member of a youth police cadet program. The Associated Press also reports that the teen’s Facebook page is pro-law enforcement and shows him with an assault rifle.

Gosar is among some conservatives who have sought shift blame to local government in Kenosha for the shooting.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson drew a wave of backlash for remarks he made in response to the shooting on his television show Wednesday.

“So what does that amount to? We’re unsure. A court will decide whether what you just saw qualifies as self-defense. As of tonight, we really don’t have more details. We do know why it all happened, though. Kenosha is devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it. People in charge, from the governor of Wisconsin on down, refused to enforce the law. They stood back and they watched Kenosha burn,” he said. 

“So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?  Everyone could see what was happening in Kenosha. It was getting crazier by the hour,” Carlson continued. 

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