A Wisconsin man previously accused of firing a shot into the air moments before then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly gunned down three protesters in Kenosha, killing two of them over the summer, was slapped with a new felony arson charge Tuesday after prosecutors say he also lit a dumpster on fire during violent demonstrations earlier that night.
Joshua Ziminski, 35, of Racine, was charged Tuesday with one count of arson, a felony, as well as two misdemeanor offenses of disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon and obstructing an officer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
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The latest criminal complaint alleges he and his wife, 30-year-old Kelly Ziminski, attempted to block police trying to disperse a crowd of protesters gathered on Sheridan Road, south of a government center, on Aug. 25, 2019. Several chaotic demonstrations ensued in the days after Jacob Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back seven times by a White Kenosha police officer.
Videos recorded by Joshua Ziminski's wife and recovered from her cell phone showed Joshua Ziminski tossing a lit match into a dumpster at a gas station near 56th Street around 11:15 p.m., prosecutors said.
Joshua Ziminski, 35, of Racine, was charged with arson, disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon and obstructing an officer. (Kenosha County Sheriff's Office)
He then called for others in the crowd to help him pour more flammable liquids into the dumpster, before pushing the container into the southbound lanes of Sheridan Road, as police vehicles moved toward him, Madison.com reported, citing the criminal complaint.
Another video showed Joshua Ziminski near an overturned trailer set ablaze at the 5800 block of Sheridan Road "manipulating the fire with his right foot," prosecutors said.
His bond was set at $1,000.
Footage also showed his wife adding what appeared to be lighter fluid and other flammable material into the dumpster, The Southern Illinoisan reported. She was previously charged in December 2019 with several misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct, resisting an officer and a curfew violation, and is scheduled to appear during a pretrial conference for that case Friday, according to the Journal Sentinel.
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During a court hearing Tuesday, Kenosha prosecutors also dropped a separate charge of disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon initially filed against Joshua Ziminski in October. Previously, prosecutors alleged in a separate criminal complaint that he fired a handgun into the air during street demonstrations near the intersection of Sheridan Road and 60th Street on Aug. 25.
Joshua Ziminski's shot allegedly rang out moments before Rittenhouse, who was reportedly nearby at the time, opened fire during the protest, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.
Before he was killed, Rosenbaum was seen on several other videos from that evening spending time with both Joshua and Kelly Ziminski, including right before Rosenbaum began chasing Rittenhouse, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Rittenhouse faces multiple charges, including intentional homicide. He has argued he was protecting businesses and fired in self-defense. Conservatives have rallied around him, generating enough money to make his $2 million cash bail. His supporters previously argued that the weapons-related charge filed against Joshua Ziminski in October proved he fired the "first shot," before Rittenhouse used his weapon.
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Last week, a judge ordered Rittenhouse to have no contact with known White supremacists after he was seen drinking in a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wisc., earlier this month, and posing for a photo with two men who made hand gestures used by White supremacists. Prosecutors also alleged men at the tavern serenaded Rittenhouse with the anthem of the Proud Boys. The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21 but Rittenhouse could legally drink alcohol because he was with his mother.
Rittenhouse is due back in court in Kenosha on March 10.