A teenager has been arrested after two people were shot and killed during violent US protests, sparked by another police shooting of a black man.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was taken into custody after footage of the disorder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, showed a man with an assault weapon opening fire in the middle of a road.
There has been civil unrest in the city for three nights after Jacob Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times by officers in front of his children.
Much like the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd when a white officer knelt on his neck, the shocking incident was caught on camera and has led to outrage in a country already on edge.
But in last nights incident, when the white Kenosha gunman was seen strolling down the street sporting the rifle he had used to shoot at people seconds before, armoured police vehicles just drove past him.
Asked at a news conference why officers did not confront the man, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said: “In situations that are high stress you have such an incredible tunnel vision. You have no idea what’s outside.”
While outbreaks of vandalism and arson that destroyed several businesses marred the first two nights of protests, the third night turned deadly.
Protesters and mostly white armed self-proclaimed militia members, who said they had been guarding local businesses, began to clash in the streets.
“What it seems to be is a member of a militia group who decided to be a vigilante and take the law into his own hands and mow down innocent protesters,” Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes told MSNBC before the arrest was reported.
The suspected shooter was identified as Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, who was arrested on a
warrant and charged with first-degree intentional homicide, according to court documents.
The latest violence coincided with the second night of the Republican National Convention, which nominated President Donald Trump as the party’s candidate in the November 3 election.
DISTRESSING: White cop shoots unarmed black father in the back SEVEN times as his children watch
Trump has made “law and order” crackdowns on violent protests a centerpiece of his campaign, but has faced criticism for stoking racial tensions with his confrontational rhetoric.
Social media videos captured much of the overnight violence, but not the initial confrontation involving the gunman.
The videos show a crowd chasing the gunman, with some in the crowd shouting that he had shot someone in the stomach.
The gunman then falls to the ground, coming under attack, and fires his weapon, appearing to hit a man in the torso, who falls to the ground, and seriously wounding another man in the arm.
As the crowd around him disperses, the man walks freely down the street, hands in the air, his rifle hanging in front of him.
Kenosha police have asked witnesses to come forward, requesting additional video or photos beyond those posted on social media.
The suspect’s now-deleted Facebook page shows him posing with another young man, both holding rifles.
The photo is encircled by a Blue Lives Matter badge in support of police.
On Wednesday, Facebook took down the page of the Kenosha Guard, a self-described local militia that had called on members to help protect the streets.
“We are unaware if the armed citizen was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia’s call to arms,” the group said.
Trump said he had spoken with Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and that the governor agreed to accept US law enforcement support.
Evers said he had doubled the potential National Guard deployment to 500 troops, and was working to get reinforcement from other states.
Girding for a fourth night of turmoil, Kenosha officials moved a curfew ahead by one hour to 7pm (1am UK time).
“TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Anti-racism protesters also clashed with police in Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday night, part of a wave of national protests since George Floyd died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he spoke on Wednesday with Jacob Blake’s family, “and I told them justice must and will be done.”
He condemned violent protest in Blake’s name, calling it “needless.”
Blake, paralyzed by the shooting, underwent another round of surgery on Tuesday to stabilize his spine with rods and screws, Patrick Salvi Sr., a lawyer for Blake’s family, told CNN.
An investigation into Mr Blake’s shooting is ongoing.