President Donald Trump said that protesters “violently attacked” Kyle Rittenhouse, but the incident was under investigation.


Claim: A photo shows accused shooter Kyle Rittenhouse’s armed mother in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the night protesters were killed.

A week after 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha from Antioch, Illinois, and — according to criminal charges — shot and killed two people during a night of protests and chaos, a photo is circulating on social media purporting to describe how he got there. 

Rittenhouse was recorded on video on Aug. 25 carrying a rifle and saying it was his job to protect life and property. It was the third night of unrest after a Kenosha police officer shot a 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake seven times in the back at close range. Rittenhouse has been charged with homicide and remains in Illinois awaiting further legal proceedings.

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Kyle Rittenhouse, at left in backwards cap, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., at around 11 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, with another armed civilian Tuesday night. Less than an hour later Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois, is accused of shooting three other people, killing two of them, with at least two of the shootings captured on video by onlookers showing Rittenhouse as the shooter. The incident took place after curfew in Kenosha less than 72 hours after demonstrations and riots broke out in the lakeside city following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. (Photo: ADAM ROGAN)

On Aug. 28, Facebook user Doug McLean shared a photo and connected it to the night of the deadly shooting. It has since drawn more than 800 shares and, in its various iterations, scores of comments. 

In the picture, a white woman is shown wearing fatigues with a long gun strapped to her chest. That image is set next to one of Rittenhouse.

“How did Kyle Rittenhouse cross state lines to Wisconsin? His mom, pictured below drove him. #KyleRittenhouse’s mom Wendy, photographed on same night her son killed two people and shot another,” McLean wrote. 

A release from Rittenhouse’s attorneys on Aug. 28 disputes this. That release says Kyle Rittenhouse had stayed in Kenosha for the night after finishing work as a community lifeguard.

But there’s a bigger problem with the photo that was shared: It’s not even from the same day.

Or the same city.

Let’s dig in. 

More: Fact check: Police gave Kyle Rittenhouse water and thanked him before shooting

Police in riot gear confront protestors outside the Kenosha Police Department in Kenosha on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. Kenosha police shot a man Sunday evening, setting off unrest in the city after a video appeared to show the officer firing several shots at close range into the man’s back (Photo: Mike De Sisti)

Photo is from a related protest in Madison a few days earlier 

The woman with the long gun actually appears in a photo in a separate city, on a different day. The image was cropped in the Facebook post in question to focus on her.

Facebook user Miki Pope shared the original photo, in which the woman stands with a group of other similarly armed people outside the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, where protests also occurred after Blake was shot by police. 

“Last night (Aug. 24) in Madison, these counter-protesters showed up with long guns,” Pope wrote in the early morning hours of Aug. 26. 

Pope’s post references the Kenosha violence Rittenhouse is charged with, but it does not in any way tie him to the people in the photo aside from decrying the actions of such militia members that have been showing up at various protests. 

“I’m afraid this won’t be the last shooting, as armed white supremacists are becoming more and more public about their hatred for Black lives and the Black Lives Matter protests,” Pope wrote. 

It’s unknown whether Rittenhouse’s mother had any involvement in bringing her son to Kenosha that day — but the image alleging to be mother and son is a fabrication, using a photo from a different place and time. 

Our ruling: False

A composite photo purported to be Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy, is not her. It is an image from a protest in Madison, not from a Kenosha protest. It’s cropped from a larger image of a handful of people with guns standing outside the state capitol two days earlier. We rate the claim FALSE. 

Our fact-check sources

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 28, “What we know about the victims of the Kenosha protest shooting that killed two men and injured another” 
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 27, “Kyle Rittenhouse, charged in Kenosha protest homicides, considered himself militia”
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 27, “Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with homicide. Here’s what we learned about the Kenosha shootings from the charging documents” 
  • Doug McLean, Aug. 28, Facebook post about Rittenhouse’s mother
  • Miki Pope, Aug. 26, Facebook post about Madison counterprotesters

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