December 6, 2021

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Lone survivor shot by Kyle Rittenhouse at Kenosha protests testifies he thought he “was going to die” – CBS News

5 min read

A witness at Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial testified Monday that he confronted a rifle-toting Rittenhouse with a gun of his own to try to stop the bloodshed, and thought he was going to die as he closed in on the young man. Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, ended up getting shot and seriously wounded in the arm by Rittenhouse.

Grosskreutz went into action that night after seeing Rittenhouse kill a man just feet away — the second person Rittenhouse fatally shot that night.

“I thought the defendant was an active shooter,” Grosskreutz said, recounting how he pulled out the pistol he had holstered.

Kenosha Protest-Shootings
Gaige Grosskreutz cries as he describes the moments where he was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse during the trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Sean Krajacic / AP

Asked what was going through his mind as he neared the 17-year-old Rittenhouse, he said, “That I was going to die.”

On cross-examination, defense attorney Corey Chirafisi sought to portray Grosskreutz as dishonest in his description of the moments right before he was shot, with Chirafisi asserting that Grosskreutz was chasing Rittenhouse with his gun out.
 
Grosskreutz said he was not chasing Rittenhouse.
 
Chirafisi also pointed to Grosskreutz’s lawsuit against the city of Kenosha, in which he alleges police enabled the violence by allowing an armed militia to have the run of the streets during the demonstration.
 
“If Mr. Rittenhouse is convicted, your chance of getting 10 million bucks is better, right?” Chirafisi said.  

Rittenhouse, now 18, is on trial on charges of killing two men and wounding Grosskreutz in the streets of Kenosha during a turbulent protest against racial injustice in the summer of 2020. The one-time police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois was 17 when he went to Kenosha with an AR-style rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from the demonstrations that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.

Grosskreutz had a gun in has hand, with his arms raised, when Rittenhouse fired, shooting him in the bicep. A prosecutor asked Grosskreutz why he didn’t shoot Rittenhouse.

“Like I said, that’s not the kind of person that I am. That’s not why I was out there,” he said. “It’s not who I am. And definitely not somebody I would want to become.”

Earlier that night, Grosskreutz was recording on his cellphone for a livestream when he heard gunshots a few blocks away. He heard people yelling for a medic, and he began running toward the sound of the gunshots.

The video played in court showed Grosskreutz coming upon Rittenhouse as Rittenhouse was running away. He asked him what he was doing and if someone was shot. Rittenhouse said: “I’m going to the police. I didn’t do anything.” At the time, Grosskreutz testified, he he thought Rittenhouse said, “I’m working with the police.”

Grosskreutz ran along with Rittenhouse for a few seconds while trying to talk to him, but then turned to go help whoever might have been shot. But then Grosskreutz turned back toward Rittenhouse because he heard people saying that Rittenhouse had shot someone.

In the courtroom, Rittenhouse kept his eyes on Grosskreutz as he testified. When asked questions by prosecutors, Grosskreutz turned and looked straight at the jurors, who sat just feet away.

Kenosha Protest-Shootings
Kyle Rittenhouse and his defense team watch video of the shooting as Gaige Grosskreutz testifies about being shot in the right bicep during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha (Wisconsin) Circuit Court, Nov. 8, 2021. Mark Hertzberg / AP

One juror nodded her head in agreement when the judge instructed the jury to disregard Grosskreutz’s referring to Rittenhouse’s fatal shooting of another protester as a “murder. ” 

Rittenhouse is charged as an adult with two counts of first degree homicide and one count of attempted homicide. He is als charged with recklessly endangering the safety of two other victims and possessing a weapon while under the age of 18.

Grosskreutz, who was trained as a paramedic, testified that he volunteered as a medic at protests in Milwaukee in the days after George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. Grosskreutz said he attended around 75 protests before the night he was shot in August 2020, offering help to anyone needing medical attention.

Grosskreutz said he was wearing a hat that night that said “paramedic” and was carrying medical supplies, in addition to a loaded pistol. Grosskreutz said his permit to carry a concealed weapon had expired and he did not have a valid permit that night.

“I believe in the Second Amendment. I’m for people’s right to carry and bear arms,” he said, explaining why he was armed. “And that night was no different than any other day. It’s keys, phone, wallet, gun.”

He said he provided medical assistance to about 10 other people that night.

Rittenhouse is white, as are the three men he shot, but the case has  raised polarizing questions about racial justice, policing, vigilantism and the right to bear arms.

Prosecutors have portrayed Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed. Rittenhouse’s lawyer has argued that he acted in self-defense, suggesting among other things that Rittenhouse feared his weapon would be taken and used against him.

In the first week of Rittenhouse’s trial, witnesses testified that the first man shot and killed that night, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, was “hyperaggressive” and “acting belligerently” that night.

Richie McGinniss, who was recording events on a cellphone that night for conservative website The Daily Caller, testified that Rosenbaum made a lunge for Rittenhouse’s gun.

“I think it was very clear to me that he was reaching specifically for the weapon,” McGinniss said.

Rosenbaum’s killing set in motion the bloodshed that followed moments later: Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old protester seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. Rittenhouse then wounded Grosskreutz.

Grosskreutz has a tattoo on the arm where he was shot. It is the common medical image of a snake wrapped around a staff, and at the top it has a banner that says, “Do no harm” and at the bottom, a banner reading “Do know harm.”
 
Grosskreutz testified that he has difficulty lifting heavy objects with his right arm and has a loss of feeling extending from his bicep to his thumb.  

Last week, the judge presiding over the trial dismissed a juror who joked with a courtroom deputy about why police shot Blake. 

Prosecutors said the juror asked a courtroom deputy, “Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times? Because they ran out of bullets,” saying the joke was in poor taste and showed racial bias.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the charges against Rittenhouse.

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