“That’s all I think about,” Gaige Grosskreutz, 22, told CNN in an exclusive interview Tuesday. “I reproduce it in my head, I think about it all the time.”
The gunshots, screams and chaos that followed continue to echo in his head as if it were August 25 again.
“I think about it all all the time,” Grosskreutz said.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of the shooting during the protest that followed. He had an affinity for the police which his social media makes clear. He took part in a program for young people interested in becoming police officers.
As Blake, a 29-year-old black, fought for his life in the hospital after being shot by an officer on August 23, protesters took to the streets.
Police and civilians clashed the first and second night. But on the third night, August 25, visibly armed demonstrators and civilians also clashed.
Before the shooting, Rittenhouse – clutching a long rifle – told a reporter who was following him that he was a trained doctor, according to a criminal complaint. The teenager worked part-time in a YMCA before being fired due to Covid-19.
Grosskreutz said he worked as a paramedic before returning to college in Wisconsin, where he is currently studying. Grosskreutz said he participated in many peaceful protests in Milwaukee – which saw more than 100 days of protests – against police brutality and racial injustice.
But the night he met Rittenhouse changed his life, Grosskreutz said.
“I was hit point blank with a .223 round from the shooter,” Grosskreutz said. “And now I’m missing 90% of my bicep. It wasn’t easy emotionally, physically. I suffer constantly, like a stabbing pain that just doesn’t go away – both in my arm and in my heart.”
According to the complaint, Rittenhouse shot the first victim, Joseph Rosenbaum, multiple times after the victim threw a plastic bag at him and tried to grab Rittenhouse’s gun. Rittenhouse then escaped and was chased as people appeared to be trying to stop him, the video shows. He then fired multiple shots, killing Huber and seriously injuring Grosskreutz, the complaint says
As police and emergency vehicles rushed to the scene and videos of the fateful encounter appeared on social media, the armed suspect walked past a group of officers with their arms raised and rifles hanging from their chest. He turned himself in to the police the next day, 30 miles away in Antioch, Illinois.
Grosskreutz says he’s packed his medical bag and his licensed pistol
Disturbed by the video of Blake’s shooting, Grosskreutz said he made the 40-mile journey from his Milwaukee home to Kenosha to attend the protests.
Grosskreutz said he packed medical supplies in a small backpack to be ready to provide medical assistance. He also said he decided to take his licensed pistol with him. He said he was concerned after seeing a call to arms on Facebook from a group called Kenosha Guard, a self-styled militia group that used the social media platform to encourage armed citizens to take to the streets.
“Everyone was there to exercise their right to protest. And there were some people who were exercising their right to bear arms, including me,” he said.
Grosskreutz said he saw the need for medical assistance that night and wore a paramedic hat and withdrew from the protest to treat the injured, on both sides of the protest.
“He was over there trying to provide assistance to everyone indiscriminately,” Grosskreutz’s attorney Kimberley Motley said.
The social media video captured the footage as it unfolded
Social media videos from live streamers that night captured the events as they unfolded.
Rittenhouse is seen taking part in shootings in two locations. In one video, the criminal complaint against him said, Rosenbaum threw him a plastic bag and tried to disarm him and Rittenhouse shot the man to death.
In two other videos, Rittenhouse was seen running and people yelling and chasing him. Someone yelled, “He just shot someone.”
And someone else replied: “Take her ass.”
Rittenhouse appears to trip and falls to the ground. He fires his weapon as a man approaches but misses, the video shows.
Then Anthony Huber uses his skateboard and hits Rittenhouse in the shoulder and then falls on him.
Huber was seen staggering and then falling to the ground. He died of the gunshot wound, according to the complaint.
Grosskreutz is then seen approaching Rittenhouse and is shot in the arm from close range.
Grosskreutz is seen running away. He has a big wound and his arm doesn’t move. You can also see a gun in the hand of his injured arm. It can be heard screaming for a doctor.
“I’ve never fired my gun,” Grosskreutz said. “I was there to help people. Not to hurt people.”
Grosskreutz said he has had clashes with the police in the past and paid his debt. But he says he had every right to carry his firearm.
“I’m not a criminal,” he said. “I have my bag hidden, I’ve had it for years. That was my gun. My firearm. I had the legal right to own it and to possess it concealed.”
Motley, Grosskreutz’s attorney, said Rittenhouse did not have the right to have his gun. He is accused of possessing a dangerous weapon under the age of 18.
Grosskreutz said he never used his gun that night, even after being shot.
The last patient he cared for was himself, Grosskreutz says
Grosskreutz said he didn’t expect the last patient he would treat that night would be himself.
Grosskreutz said he used his medical bag and with the help of CJ Halliburton, who was streaming the entire incident live but stopped to help Grosskreutz, he was able to have a tourniquet applied to his arm. before the police took him to the hospital.
“That was a serious injury. If I didn’t have my training and the proper equipment … to heal a gunshot wound, I might not be here doing this interview,” Grosskreutz said.
He described a chaotic scene that night before the shooting. Buildings had been damaged and fires had been started by people who had taken part in the protests.
He said the police used tear gas and rubber bullets.
Before the shooting, the video shows that the police are friendly with Rittenhouse and give him water.
“And then they gave the shooter water at some point in time and said they liked the shooter,” he said of the police, referring to a video from the scene before the shooting.
Motley said there was blame for Rittenhouse’s actions, including law enforcement who didn’t stop him from leaving; Facebook for not removing posts from the Kenosha Guard event; the person who gave the gun to Rittenhouse; and whoever helped Rittenhouse cross state lines after shooting several people.
“Even though (Rittenhouse) may have been the one who pulled the trigger, there are certainly a lot of people who put the bullets in that gun,” Motley said.
Asked why the agents didn’t stop Rittenhouse from leaving the scene, Kenosha Sheriff David Beth told reporters that tunnel vision can occur in high-stress environments like that night of August 25.
Grosskreutz said he and his family, including his 65-year-old grandmother, are receiving online death threats from people who support Rittenhouse.
“None of this is true, of what people have said regarding their assumptions about me, at least,” he said. “I’m not an antifa terrorist organizer. I’m a 22-year-old male. I go to school. And yes, I exercise my First Amendment right to protest peacefully.”
Grosskreutz is still being treated by doctors in the same hospital where Jacob Blake is being treated for gunshot wounds.
Rittenhouse is in jail in Illinois. He has an extradition hearing on September 25 to send him back to Wisconsin where charges have been brought against him.
“The shooter left and fell asleep in their bed that night. Some people didn’t have that luxury – two people that night, me (me too), didn’t have that luxury,” Grosskreutz said.
Grosskreutz stared at the floor, tears in his eyes.
“I’m having a hard day but, like I said, I’m a strong person,” he said. “But everyone suffers from it in one way or another. That night I went away with my life, but two people didn’t.”