The Illinois teenager accused of killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin may have been part of a group of people who asked to be deputized, according to Sheriff David Beth.
“Yesterday, I had a person call me and say why don't you deputize citizens who have guns to come out and patrol the city of Kenosha? And I’m like oh, hell no. What happened last night… is probably the perfect reason why I wouldn't,” he said Wednesday during a press conference.
“I don't know this for sure, but the incident that happened last night where two people lost their lives, I think [the shooter] was part of this group that wanted me to deputize them,” Beth added. If he had deputized them, that “would have been one deputy sheriff who killed two people.”
“And the liability that goes with that would have been immense. So, that's one of the things brought up to me and I said there's no way. There is no way I would deputize people,” Beth explained.
Video footage posted online showed a man in civilian clothes with an assault rifle seeming to shoot at protesters and apparently hitting two. The gunman then walked down the street freely, gun slung across his chest, while protesters scattered and police vehicles drove past him.
Early Wednesday the Wisconsin city's police department said local officers, along with assisting agencies, had responded to reports of shots being fired and multiple gunshot victims shortly before midnight.
"The shooting resulted in two fatalities and a third gunshot victim was transported to a hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries," the department said in a tweet, adding the investigation was "active and ongoing."
The violence came on the third night of angry protests over the shooting by police last Sunday of African American Jacob Blake, 29.
Bystander video shows a police man shooting Blake point-blank as many as seven times in his back as he tried to enter his car, which held his three sons.
Blake's father Jacob Blake Sr. accused police of "senseless attempted murder" as he remained paralyzed from the waist down after several surgeries.
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With reporting from AFP