KENOSHA: A teenager was arrested on murder charges Wednesday after two people were shot dead during anti-police protests in the US city of Kenosha, as President Donald Trump said he was sending in additional federal forces.
Violent clashes have erupted in the Midwestern city since police shot a black man in his back point-blank multiple times, as his children watched.
During protests on Tuesday two people were shot dead and a third injured after a man in civilian clothes with an assault rifle opened fire on demonstrators.
“This morning Kenosha County authorities issued an arrest warrant for the individual responsible for the incident, charging him with First Degree Intentional Homicide,” said police in Antioch, Illinois, about 32km southwest of Kenosha.
“The suspect in this incident, a 17-year-old Antioch resident, is currently in custody of the Lake County Judicial System pending an extradition hearing,” they said.
Kenosha city officials ordered a 7pm to 7am curfew through Sunday in hopes of bringing calm after Tuesday’s violence, which occurred as armed vigilantes flocked to the site of protests saying they were there to defend private property.
Videos taken overnight Tuesday shows one of the vigilantes – believed to be the 17-year-old – shooting at protesters with an assault rifle and apparently hitting two who tried to stop him.
The man then walks down the street freely, gun slung across his chest, while protesters scatter and police vehicles drive past him.
“For anyone who is doing anything that is violent or destructive, please stop,” Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said in an interview Wednesday with ABC News.
“I get your pain. I get your frustration. This is nothing new and it’s not just about my son, I get that. But please find another way.”
‘Restore law and order’
Trump said Wednesday he was deploying federal law enforcement and national guard troops to Kenosha “to restore law and order” in the northern city.
“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets,” Trump tweeted.
But local officials said they already had hundreds of police from around the state, some 250 national guard troops, and FBI and federal marshals helping them with the situation.
“I know people are looking for justice,” said Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth in a press briefing.
But he stressed that people had to obey the curfew.
“We’ve got more resources coming in,” he said.
“We’re not going to put up with what we saw Monday night,” when cars and buildings were burned by protestors.
Blake case still unexplained
Kenosha city Police Chief Daniel Miskins confirmed that two area men, aged 26 and 36, had been killed by the shooter on Tuesday night and another, also 26, injured by gunfire.
But he declined to discuss the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on Sunday which sparked the violence.
The details of the incident remain unexplained, while the police officers involved have been suspended.
Bystander video shows one officer shooting Blake multiple times in his back as he tried to enter his car, which held his three sons, after what various witnesses describe as his intervention in a domestic incident.
Blake’s father Jacob Blake Sr accused police of “senseless attempted murder” as he remained paralysed from the waist down after several surgeries.
Miskins acknowledged anger over the lack of information on the incident but said it was now in the hands of state investigators and he could not talk about it.
“We become the people investigated, rather than those doing the investigation,” he said.
Black Lives Matter protests
The most recent police shooting of an African American has sparked renewed outrage and protests in US cities and further fuelled the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is expected to become one focus of a planned march on Washington this weekend by African Americans led by activist Al Sharpton.
But Trump’s comments made clear it would also be fodder for the ongoing presidential race with the election just over two months away.
Trump’s campaign has portrayed anti-police protests in numerous cities as an extreme leftist threat to the country.
Democratic rival Joe Biden called for an end to violence after Blake’s shooting.
“Once again, a Black man – Jacob Blake – was shot by the police. In front of his children. It makes me sick,” Biden tweeted Wednesday.
“Is this the country we want to be? Needless violence won’t heal us. We need to end the violence and peacefully come together to demand justice,” he wrote.