Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A man who survived being shot by Kyle Rittenhouse testified Monday that he thought the teen was preparing to kill him during their confrontation last year in riot-torn Kenosha, Wis.
Gaige Grosskreutz, a licensed paramedic from suburban Milwaukee, testified at Rittenhouse's trial on homicide charges that he was holding a Glock pistol as he approached Rittenhouse during a night of demonstrations over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, but didn't intend to use it on him.
"I was never trying to kill the defendant," Grosskreutz said in Kenosha County Circuit Court. "In that moment, I was trying to preserve my own life. But doing so while also taking the life of another is not something that I'm capable of or comfortable doing."
Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old from Antioch, Ill., was 17 at the time of the shooting. He is accused of fatally shooting Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and injuring Grosskreutz, now 27, using an assault-style rifle during the Aug. 25, 2020, protest of the police shooting of Blake, a Black man who was left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back, authorities have said.
During three hours of dramatic and perhaps key testimony, Grosskreutz confirmed that he was holding an unholstered pistol in one hand and a cellphone in other as he approached Rittenhouse, but denied "chasing" him and said his purpose in drawing the weapon was to be "ready" if necessary.
He said that he was standing close to Rittenhouse when the teen shot and killed Huber and felt he was "going to die" next. Video showed he took a step toward Rittenhouse with his hands raised; the teen then shot him in the bicep.
"I thought there was a high likelihood that I would be shot myself," Grosskreutz said.
He could not offer a clear explanation for why he advanced toward Rittenhouse, saying he may have been thinking about wrestling the gun from him.
"In that moment, I felt that I had to do something to try to prevent myself from being killed or being shot," he testified. "I decided the best course of action would be to close the distance between the defendant and from there ... I don't know."
Rittenhouse faces five felony charges: first-degree intentional homicide, first degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Misdemeanor charges he faces include possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18 and non-criminal violation of failure to comply with an emergency order.