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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher November 15, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother did not bring him to a Kenosha riot armed with a rifle

If Your Time is short

  • Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teen who has pleaded self-defense in fatally shooting two people and wounding another during a violent protest in Kenosha, Wis., went to the scene with a Wisconsin friend who had purchased the rifle for him.

  • There is no evidence that Wendy Rittenhouse drove her son to Kenosha, and no evidence that her son was armed when he left their Illinois home for Kenosha.

With the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse nearing its end, a viral image on social media attacked the mother of the Illinois teen who is charged with shooting two men to death during a race-related violent protest in Kenosha, Wis.

The image, with pictures of Rittenhouse and his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, stated:

"Why are we just glazing over the fact that Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother put her minor child in a vehicle, drove him across state lines and dropped him off in the middle of a riot armed with an assault rifle? Why is she not behind bars?"

The image, shared in an Instagram post from actor D.L. Hughley, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We could find nothing to back the attack on Wendy Rittenhouse.

There is no evidence that Wendy Rittenhouse, who has not been charged with a crime, drove her son to Kenosha, and no evidence that Kyle Rittenhouse was armed when he left their Illinois home.According to court documents and testimony, Kyle Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha on his own and went to the protest with a friend who provided him with the gun. The gun was kept at the home of the friend’s stepfather in Kenosha. 

Protests and a fatal shooting

Three nights of violent protests erupted in Kenosha, which is roughly halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago, after a white Kenosha police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, while arresting him on Aug. 23, 2020. Kenosha is a city of about 100,000 residents, and almost 80% are white.

Blake, who was armed with a knife, was left paralyzed; the officer was not charged with a crime.

Two days after the shooting, Rittenhouse, then 17, traveled from his home in Antioch, Ill., about 20 miles from Kenosha, to the protests. He was armed with an AR-15, with a magazine that held 30 rounds of ammunition, and a self-described mission to protect property. During a confrontation, he shot three people, killing two.

Charged with one count of intentional homicide and one count of reckless homicide, among other crimes, Rittenhouse’s trial centers on his claim that he shot in self-defense. Attorneys began their closing arguments to the jury on Nov. 15.

Friend provided the gun in Kenosha 

Here is the first issue with the social media post attacking Wendy Rittenhouse: There is no evidence that Kyle Rittenhouse possessed any gun before he arrived in Kenosha from Illinois.

Featured Fact-check

The gun Rittenhouse used in the shootings was provided by his friend, 20-year-old Dominick Black of Racine, Wis., after Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha, according to a criminal complaint.

According to the complaint: Black bought the rifle for Rittenhouse in May 2020, using money from Rittenhouse, and they agreed the rifle would be stored at Black’s stepfather’s house in Kenosha. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, was too young to legally buy the gun in Wisconsin. 

At Rittenhouse’s trial, Black testified that he bought the rifle for Rittenhouse and that they shot target practice together in a rural area. 

On the day of the shootings, Black testified, Black invited Rittenhouse to join him at the Kenosha protest to protect a car dealership. Before they went to the protest, Black testified that they went together to the home of Black’s stepfather to get Rittenhouse’s gun.

Mother did not drive him to Kenosha

Black testified that he, his brother and Rittenhouse had gone to downtown Kenosha on the morning of the shootings to view the aftermath of the previous days’ violence, and that he and Rittenhouse returned to Black’s home before going back downtown about 5 p.m.

Rittenhouse testified that he went to Kenosha with his sister and friends to provide first aid after seeing online pleas for people to come to the city to help protect it.

Rittenhouse testified that after the shootings, Black drove him home in Antioch, where he told his mother and two sisters what happened. He said his mother drove him to the local police station, where he surrendered.

Wendy Rittenhouse told the Chicago Tribune in November that she would have tried to stop her son from going to Kenosha, but she didn’t know where he was or what he was doing.

Our ruling

A viral image claimed that Rittenhouse’s mother "drove him across state lines and dropped him off in the middle of a riot armed with an assault rifle" in Kenosha. 

There is no evidence that Rittenhouse’s mother took him to Kenosha.

The evidence is that Rittenhouse went on his own from his Illinois home to Kenosha, and that he retrieved the rifle he used in the shootings, which had been purchased by his friend, from the Kenosha home of the friend’s stepfather.  

We rate the statement False.

Our Sources

Instagram, post, Nov. 13, 2021

PolitiFact, "Fact checking Kenosha shootings, violent protests one year later," Aug. 24, 2021

Chicago Tribune, "Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother didn’t know what he was doing on night of fatal Kenosha protest shootings," Nov. 10, 2020

CNN, "Friend who bought gun for Kyle Rittenhouse says the teen was 'freaking out,' pale and sweaty after Kenosha shootings," Nov. 2, 2021

Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, Kyle Rittenhouse case summary, accessed Nov. 15, 2021

Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, Dominick Black case summary, accessed Nov. 15, 2021 

Washington Post, "Kenosha: How two men’s paths crossed in an encounter that has divided the nation," Nov. 19, 2020 

Fox 11, Dominick Black criminal complaint, Nov. 3, 2020

New York Magazine, "Kyle Rittenhouse Takes the Stand in a Surprise Turn," Nov. 10, 2021

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kyle Rittenhouse's friend pleads not guilty to providing gun, seeks dismissal of charges," May 25, 2021

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kyle Rittenhouse's friend Dominick Black testifies he bought the gun used in the killings in Kenosha," Nov. 2, 2021

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kyle Rittenhouse testifies he fired to protect himself, faces lengthy cross-examination," published Nov. 10, 2021; updated Nov. 11, 2021

ABC News, "Kyle Rittenhouse defends shootings, claiming self-defense: Key takeaways from Day 7," Nov. 10, 2021

PolitiFact, "'Perfectly legal' for Rittenhouse to carry a gun? False," Aug. 28, 2020 

PolitiFact, "Did Kyle Rittenhouse use COVID-19 stimulus funds to buy AR-15 used in Kenosha shootings?", Nov. 25, 2020

Wisconsin Public Radio, Kyle Rittenhouse criminal complaint, Aug. 27, 2020

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Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother did not bring him to a Kenosha riot armed with a rifle

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