KENOSHA, Wis. — Gunfire rang out from a crowd of protesters early Wednesday morning in Kenosha, Wis., on the third night of unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake Jr. At least three people were injured. It is unclear who fired the shots, and police and hospital officials have not yet confirmed the severity of the injuries.
Shots were first fired after midnight, as a group of protesters on Sheridan Road faced off with police in armored trucks. A young White man carrying an AR-15-style rifle began running north on Sheridan, away from the group. Video shows the armed man fall to the ground, and then fire multiple rounds into the crowd. Two more people fell to the ground, one shot in the arm. Another graphic video shows one man with blood running down the back of his neck and bystanders shouting that he’d been shot in the head.
Carol Badoni from Burlington, Wis. started CPR on one wounded man. His girlfriend said his name is Ben.
“He definitely was not breathing,” said Badoni, 50. “His eyes were rolled back in his head. There was no pulse.”
Badoni added, “I never run toward trouble but it’s worth getting shot for somebody else.”
Police soon arrived on the scene and took Ben to a nearby hospital.
Kenosha has been beset by violence, looting and fires since Sunday, when Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot several times in the back by Kenosha police as he stepped into a car with his children inside. Earlier on Tuesday, Blake’s family said he is paralyzed and still in critical condition, while his mother pleaded for peaceful protests. But the family also chastised police, saying they systematically brutalize Black people.
“They shot my son seven times,” said Jacob Blake Sr., his father. “Seven times. Like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. He’s a human being, and he matters.”
After Monday night’s protests led to multiple buildings burning to the ground and dozens of stores being looted, police on Tuesday night made it harder for people to enter Kenosha. Seven consecutive exit ramps were closed from Interstate-94 from the Illinois border to Racine, Wis., which is about 20 minutes north of Kenosha. Off the highway, the city’s sprawling outlet mall, a destination for Chicago shoppers, and other retail corridors were boarded up.
In downtown Kenosha, however, the only law enforcement presence was once again around the Kenosha County Courthouse, where a fence was erected around the building. About 1,000 protesters gathered outside the barrier, and besides occasional chanting, the scene was quiet at first.
“A lot of fear in the air because of the threats to protesters,” said Nathan, 28, a Kenosha resident who did not want to give his last name.
Nathan said he didn’t think the national movement to bring greater police accountability will lead to real change. “I worry a lot about the misinformation,” he said. But locally, he said his city will never be the same.
“It’s hard to see now, but it will be a positive thing,” he said of the protests. “It’ll bring Kenosha back together. Kenosha has always been a resilient place. It’ll continue to happen.”
Some civilians brought firearms to Tuesday’s protest, from handguns to AR-15 rifles, along with knives and military flak jackets. Some, like Dennis, 22, from Racine, said he showed up with his pistol to protect himself and other protesters.
“Nothing is going to change,” he said, hanging back from the crowd. “This is all for nothing.”
Another man, brandishing a handgun, showed up after a call on Facebook to protect the city.
“Ain’t nothing being done. We’re the only ones,” said Joe, 29, a U.S. Marine veteran who asked not to give his last name. “This is nonsense,” he said, scanning the crowd, adding that others like him were around Kenosha tonight. “Three thousand of us are armed and ready,” he said.
After some protesters began vigorously shaking the fence and setting off fireworks aimed at officers on the other side, Kenosha County police officers atop the courthouse shot tear gas pellets and rubber bullets into the crowd.
When protesters retreated, others yelled at them to go back. Around 9:20 p.m., a military vehicle entered the park, dispersing tear gas. Protesters shot fireworks, both on the ground and into the courthouse steps.
By 10 p.m., after pushing protesters away from the fence, about 70 police officers in riot gear formed a line across the park outside the courthouse as clouds of tear gas continued toward the crowd. Most of the protesters moved to the outer streets of the park, but others remained, shielding themselves with trash cans as they flung rocks at the line of officers.