“Very Special Guest” Kyle Rittenhouse was given a hero’s welcome at Turning Point USA’s “AmericaFest” in Phoenix, Arizona, Monday afternoon, spurring wild cheers and applause when he took the stage.
Rittenhouse joined a panel called “Kenosha on Camera” featuring TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, Human Events reporter Jack Posobiec, BlazeTV reporter Elijah Schaffer, and independent journalist Drew Hernandez.
Last month, the 18-year-old was acquitted of all charges related to the shooting deaths of two antifa rioters, and the injury of a third antifa rioter in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August of 2020. The jury found that he had acted in self-defense.
Throughout the event, Kirk asked the teen what was going through his mind during the trial, eliciting sometimes surprising responses. Rittenhouse told the panelists at one point that his faith in God helped him get through the stress of everything that happened to him after the shootings.
Schaffer and Hernandez were both in Kenosha on the night of the shootings, and their documentation of the events that night helped the defense team make the case that Rittenhouse had acted in self defense.
The audience booed, but Rittenhouse just laughed when Kirk reminded him that the media and Joe Biden had accused him of being a white supremacist.
“Kyle, you kept it together. You’re a hero to millions, and it’s an honor to have you here,” Kirk said.
The host went on to ask Rittenhouse if he plans to “sue some media companies soon.”
“I don’t know, Charlie,” Rittenhouse replied, playing coy. “But some accountability’s coming. Be on the lookout!”
Kirk told the audience something that a lot of people don’t know—that Rittenhouse dropped out of high school to help support his family with an extra income.
“Kyle Rittenhouse was always looking to help people,” he said.
Kirk asked Rittenhouse how he got through the trial, knowing that 12 people had the power to send him to jail for the rest of his life even though he had done nothing wrong.
“How did you get through that?” Kirk asked. “That’s enough to break most people.”
The teenager responded that those days were “really long” for him, especially the time he spent prepping for the trial in defense attorney Mark Richard’s office. He said that during the trial, he “decompressed” by playing the “Call of Duty” video game.
“Now Kyle, they tried to hold that against you,” Kirk laughed in response. “How DARE you play Call of Duty!”
Schaffer said that as he has gotten to know Rittenhouse, he’s discovered that he is quite the “meme lord,” who likes to share funny memes. He noted that the media had tried to project a narrative that Kyle was a monster, when he was just an normal American teenager.
Kirk asked Rittenhouse why he made the decision to take the stand, which many legal experts thought was a risky thing to do, especially since his trial had been going so well for him.
“Well, I wanted to tell my story. I wanted to tell the world what happened in Kenosha—the truth—unlike what the prosecution tried to do,” The teen replied. “That’s why I took the stand.”
Rittenhouse said that his preparation helped him know what prosecutor Thomas Binger was going to ask well before he asked it. “Just being three steps head of him at all times,” he said.
Kirk reminded Rittenhouse how Judge Bruce Schroeder had to repeatedly chastise the prosecutors for prosecutorial misconduct, and asked if he thought they were trying to “throw the case.”
“Absolutely, I think so. I thought they knew they were losing, and they wanted a mistrial,” Rittenhouse replied. He said his “favorite part” of the drama was when the judge hollered at Binger, “don’t get brazen with me!”
Schaffer told Rittenhouse that he had been very nervous for him because he no longer trusts the justice system in the country, and pointed out that the rioter who had pointed a gun at Rittenhouse, was never charged for it.
Schaffer said he shared his concerns with Kyle during the trial, but the teen was confident that he was going to be exonerated.
“You said, ‘we’re going to win, we’re going to have all the charges dropped, and I’m going to walk free,” Schaffer recalled.
Rittenhouse expressed gratitude for independent journalists like Schaffer, and Hernandez, because without them documenting what really happened, he may have been successfully railroaded.
Posobiec asked Rittenhouse the $million dollar question on so many minds: “What kind of training to you have with that AR-15 prior to that evening?”
The teen answered honestly that he had not had much training at all.
“I didn’t have much training with that rifle, he replied. “I’m not a rifle expert or anything. I just knew, like, the basics of it.”
Kirk asked Kyle if faith had played any role in what he had endured in the past year and a half.
“Absolutely,” the teen responded. “I believe God’s been with me every day through the trial, and every day since August 25,  He’s helped me get through this.”
He added: “I prayed to him every single night, I prayed for strength, I never prayed for an acquittal. I prayed for the strength to get through whatever happens to me.”
That was divine providence that kept you alive that night,” Posobiec said. “And I do firmly believe that it was divine providence that brought people like Drew, Elijah, BG on the Scene, Julio [Rosas]—everyone who was there that night to be there to get that footage of what happened out,” he added.
Asked if he believed that the Second Amendment played a role in the State’s decision to prosecute him, Kyle replied: “I think my trial was an example of them trying to come after our Second Amendment rights, our right to defend ourselves, and trying to take our weapons.”
Other conservative speakers who appeared during the four-day event included Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump Jr.