• The shooter who killed two protesters and wounded a third is suspected to be a member of local militia group Kenosha Guard
  • Kenosha Guard has denied having any involvement in the shooting
  • Militia and right-wing extremist group members have been arrested during previous Black Lives Matter protests for trying to escalate hostilities

After shootings during the third night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, left two people dead and one injured, a county police officer said Wednesday that a local civilian group conducting armed “patrols” during the protests is under suspicion.

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth spoke about the group with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the aftermath of the shootings. He said several people have been out dressed like local militia since the protests began over the weekend, but no altercations had been reported. He said he had also been approached about the possibility of deputizing citizens and refused, but these “patrols” began anyway.

“They’re a militia,” Beth said. “They’re like a vigilante group.”

Multiple posts on Facebook Tuesday by the group in question, Kenosha Guard, has only added to suspicions.

One post said “any patriots willing to take up arms and defend out (sic) City tonight from the evil thugs? Nondoubt (sic) they are currently planning on the next part of the City to burn tonight!”

Another asked Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis to tell officers not to ask members of the group out on “patrol” to leave under threat of arrest. The group insists it is there to help and ensure an armed response to protesters is large enough.

The group has since denied any involvement in the shooting.

“We are unaware if the armed citizen was answering the Kenosha Guard Militia's call to arms,” the post said. “Just like with the shooting of Jacob Blake, we need all the facts and evidence to come out before we make a judgement.”

Similar situations have unfolded at other Black Lives Matter protests across the country as opposition groups have tried to find means of undermining the protests directly or indirectly, leading to multiple arrests after such plots were uncovered by the police.

One example was the arrest of three men in Las Vegas who were allegedly part of the Boogaloo Boys, a right-wing anti-government extremist group.

The FBI said it has been tracking the men since April after reports the men were allegedly plotting a terrorist attack somewhere in the U.S. Investigators said Army Reservist Andrew Lyman, Air Force veteran William Loomis, and Navy veteran Stephen Parshall settled on Las Vegas during the initial wave of Black Lives Matter after George Floyd’s death on May 25.

Their plan involved firebombing a power substation in Las Vegas during the protests on the week of May 30. They would then go to the protests with the intent of starting riots as local police investigated the substation.

“They wanted to use the momentum of the George Floyd death in police custody in the City of Minneapolis to hopefully stir enough confusion and excitement, that others see the two explosions and police presence and begin to riot in the streets out of anger,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release.

Initial charges included conspiracy to damage and destroy by fire and explosive and possession of unregistered firearms, that is, a destructive device. Parshall was also charged with child sexual exploitation after child pornography was discovered on his phone.

Demonstrators participate in a march on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police
Demonstrators participate in a march on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Brandon Bell