500 National Guard troops on standby as closing arguments underway in Kyle Rittenhouse trial
KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58/CNN) -- Closing arguments began in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial Monday, Nov. 15.
As the trial comes to an end, people living in Kenosha are focusing on what's going to happen next.
A growing crowd of protesters returned to the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse, each hoping jurors make the right call.
It's clear the division this case has caused in the community.
"He's killed two people. He didn't offer any assistance to the man he first shot. He fled," said Kenosha resident Bill Gregory.
Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber using an AR-15-type rifle during protests and demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020. Rittenhouse also wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. The shooting took place during protests in the aftermath of a Kenosha police officer shooting Jacob Blake.
Some see Rittenhouse, 18, as an armed vigilante who should to go to prison, and others say he acted in self-defense while he was there to help provide first aid and protect people's property.
"Self defense is not a crime. He was out here defending the community. He was attacked by rioters and looters," said Emily Cahill, a Rittenhouse supporter from Illinois.
Others support the protesters, upset the judge did not allow those shot to be called victims during the trial.
Ally, from Kenosha, hopes the jurors consider why Rittenhouse sparked the crowd's attention that night.
"They were running after Kyle not to, like, kill him. They were just trying to stop him because he'd just shot somebody," said Ally.
And then there are some who find themselves in the middle.
One man, who did not want to be identified, blames the Kenosha County sheriff for all that happened.
"The handling of the protesters caused this whole situation. That's a fail," said the man.
Holding an upside down black and blue flag outside the courthouse, he said he's holding the police accountable.
He believes the deadly situation could have been prevented if police had not moved the protesters back toward the militia that night.
"It's called kettling -- where you channel protesters into a confined area to either capture them or gas them, and they'll trample on each other and it's very dangerous," he added.
Those living in Kenosha say all they can do is hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
It comes as so many business owners are still putting their life back together after unrest last year. That includes one man who's furniture store was burned to the ground last August. He reopened a few miles from his original downtown store and is now waiting to see what happens next.
The Wisconsin National Guard says it's prepared to handle any unrest once the final verdict is announced. Gov. Tony Evers has 500 troops on standby in a staging area outside Kenosha.
"The Kenosha community has been strong, resilient, and has come together through incredibly difficult times these past two years, and that healing is still ongoing," Evers said in a statement Friday. "I urge folks who are otherwise not from the area to please respect the community by reconsidering any plans to travel there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully."
Closing arguments will be given for up to five hours Monday and the jury of eight men and 10 women will be narrowed to 12 by a drawing of names, according to the judge. A verdict is possible this week in a case already drawing the attention of a divided nation.
Rittenhouse now faces five felony charges and a misdemeanor weapons charge. If Rittenhouse is convicted of the most serious charge against him, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
He has pleaded not guilty to the five charges.