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Attorneys for teen accused of killing two people in Kenosha claim he acted in self-defense

The attorneys representing Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager accused of killing two people this week during protests in Kenosha, Wis., have claimed their client acted in self-defense.

Rittenhouse has been charged with five criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide.

On Tuesday, Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire during protests that have dominated the Wisconsin city after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha police in front of three of his children Sunday afternoon.

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Rittenhouse was taken into custody Wednesday in Illinois and is being held in a juvenile detention facility since he is 17. It is still unclear whether he will be prosecuted in Wisconsin, where he would be tried as an adult.

Pierce Bainbridge, the law firm representing the teen, said that Rittenhouse and a friend had been asked by a local business owner — whose auto dealership had sustained damage during previous nights of protests — to provide security for his store during the protests.

Rittenhouse then reportedly made his way to a second auto dealership, where he was confronted by protesters.

"Upon the sound of a gunshot behind him, Kyle turned and was immediately faced with an attacker lunging towards him and reaching for his rifle," the attorneys said, Chicago's NBC affiliate reported. "He reacted instantaneously and justifiably with his weapon to protect himself, firing and striking the attacker."

They added, "In fear for his life and concerned the crowd would either continue to shoot at him or even use his own weapon against him, Kyle had no choice but to fire multiple rounds towards his immediate attackers, striking two, including one armed attacker."

Rittenhouse, the lawyers argued, was exercising his "God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense."

If tried and convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin, Rittenhouse would face a mandatory life sentence in prison.