KENOSHA, Wis. (WLS) -- The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has reached a not guilty verdict on five charges against the Antioch, Illinois teen on their fourth day of deliberations.
Rittenhouse, 18, broke down as the verdict was read, collapsing to the floor and breathing heavily as defense attorney Corey Chirafisi hugged him. Lead defense attorney Mark Richards hit his hand on the table as the first verdict was read.
"Kyle has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today," Richards said. "He wishes none of this ever happened."
WATCH | Kyle Rittenhouse collapses as verdict is read
The jury deliberated for about 26 hours over four days before reaching their verdict. The intensity of the three week trial was visible on the faces of everyone in the courtroom; the defense team appeared to bow their heads, and Rittenhouse's mother and sisters looked panic-stricken before his acquittal.
Rittenhouse is now a free man after being cleared of all charges in the shootings that intensified the debates over vigilantism, guns, and racial injustice.
SEE ALSO | Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse shooting timeline
He had been charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering after killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during a tumultuous night of protests over police violence against Black people in the summer of 2020. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.
Rittenhouse, then 17, repeatedly claimed he fired his AR-15-style rifle to save his own life.
Judge Bruce Schroeder thanked the jury for their attentiveness and cooperation and assured them he would take "every measure" to ensure they are safe.
WATCH: Legal analysis of the Rittenhouse verdict from the ABC7 I-Team
A sheriff's deputy immediately whisked Rittenhouse out a back door through the judge's chambers.
In reaction to the verdict, prosecutor Thomas Binger said the jury had spoken. He later issued a statement that said: The jury, representing our community, has rendered its verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected. We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations. The Kenosha community has endured much over the past 15 months, and yet we remain resilient and strong. We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner.
WATCH | Jacob Blake's family reacts to Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty verdict
President Biden reacted to the Rittenhouse verdict, telling reporters he had only "just heard a moment ago" that Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges. "I didn't watch the trial," Biden said before he was asked whether he stands by his past comments connecting Rittenhouse to white supremacy. "I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it."
There were loud outbursts from the crowd gathered outside the Kenosha courthouse as the judge read the verdict.
Jacob Blake's family were among those gathered outside the courthouse Thursday morning. They reacted strongly, calling the verdict an "injustice."
"You have to understand, from day one, the judge had his hand on the scale," said his uncle, Justin Blake.
The great aunt and girlfriend of Anthony Huber, one of the men fatally shot by Rittenhouse, slowly made their way out of the courthouse without speaking to the media.
RELATED: 5 Kenosha schools go virtual due to Kyle Rittenhouse trial protests ahead of verdict
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, reacted bitterly to the outcome.
"Over the last few weeks, many dreaded the outcome we just witnessed," Barnes said. "The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is what we should expect from our judicial system, but that standard is not always applied equally. We have seen so many black and brown youth killed, only to be put on trial posthumously, while the innocence of Kyle Rittenhouse was virtually demanded by the judge."
Rittenhouse could have gotten life in prison if found guilty on the most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide, or what some other states call first-degree murder.
SEE MORE: Prosecution rests; drone video shows shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum
Rittenhouse was 17 when he went from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha after businesses in the city were ransacked and burned over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer.
Carrying a weapon that authorities said was illegally purchased for the underage Rittenhouse, he joined other armed citizens in what he said was an effort to protect property and provide medical aid.
Bystander and drone video captured most of the frenzied chain of events that followed: Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, then shot to death protester Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded demonstrator Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.
RELATED: Kenosha shooting victims depicted differently throughout trial
"He's looked me in the eyes several times," said Susan Hughes, Anthony Huber's great aunt.
Rittenhouse killed her great nephew, Huber, with a single gunshot to the chest when Huber swung his skateboard at the Antioch teenager as he ran, just seconds after he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum.
"I did not hear remorse from him," Hughes said. "I did not hear I'm sorry that I killed these people."
Like his great-aunt, Huber's girlfriend, Hannah Gittings, has also been a fixture at the courthouse.
"I want people to know Anthony was a real life human being he was an amazing human being," Gittings said.
Attorneys for Grosskreutz and Rosenbaum's estate released a joint statement, saying in part, "While today's verdict may mean justice delayed it will not mean justice denied. We are committed to uncovering the truth of that night and holding those responsible to account."
Prosecutors portrayed Rittenhouse as a "wannabe soldier" who had gone looking for trouble that night and was responsible for creating a dangerous situation in the first place by pointing his rifle at demonstrators.
But Rittenhouse testified: "I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself."
SEE ALSO | How did Kyle Rittenhouse do on stand in murder trial? He 'helped himself,' legal experts say
Breaking into sobs at one point, he told the jury he opened fire after Rosenbaum chased him and made a grab for his gun. He said he was afraid his rifle was going to be wrested away and used to kill him.
Statement of Karen Bloom & John Huber in Response to the Rittenhouse Verdict
We are heartbroken and angry that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in his criminal trial for the murder of our son Anthony Huber. There was no justice today for Anthony, or for Mr. Rittenhouse's other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz.
We did not attend the trial because we could not bear to sit in a courtroom and repeatedly watch videos of our son's murder, and because we have been subjected to many hurtful and nasty comments in the past year. But we watched the trial closely, hoping it would bring us closure.
That did not happen. Today's verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system.
Make no mistake: our fight to hold those responsible for Anthony's death accountable continues in full force. Neither Mr. Rittenhouse nor the Kenosha police who authorized his bloody rampage will escape justice. Anthony will have his day in court.
No reasonable person viewing all of the evidence could conclude that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. In response to racist and violent calls to action from militia members, Mr. Rittenhouse travelled to Kenosha illegally armed with an assault rifle. He menaced fellow citizens in the street. Though he was in open violation of a curfew order, Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently. Kenosha police told militia members that they would push peaceful protestors toward the militia so that the militia could "deal with them." Soon after, Mr. Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum. The police did nothing. Concerned citizens, confronted with a person shooting indiscriminately on the street, stepped in to stop the violence. Anthony was shot in the chest trying to disarm Mr. Rittenhouse and stop his shooting spree. Still, the police did nothing. Mr. Rittenhouse continued to shoot, maiming Gaige Grosskreutz. The police let Mr. Rittenhouse leave the scene freely. Mr. Rittenhouse came to Kenosha armed to kill. Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently, and our son is dead as a result.
We are so proud of Anthony, and we love him so much. He is a hero who sacrificed his own life to protect other innocent civilians. We ask that you remember Anthony and keep him in your prayers.
Statement from attorneys for Gaige Grosskreutz and the Estate of Joseph Rosenbaum
Today we grieve for the families of those slain by Kyle Rittenhouse. Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum did not deserve to die that night. For now, we ask for peace from everyone hurting and that the public respect the privacy of the victims and their families. That night in Kenosha, Gaige Grosskreutz, Anthony Huber, and many others acted heroically. They did not seek violence, but to end violence. What we need right now is justice, not more violence. While today's verdict may mean justice delayed, it will not mean justice denied. We are committed to uncovering the truth of that night and holding those responsible to account.
Statement from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
"I am aware of the jury's verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, and under our constitutional system, we must respect the jury's decision. However, no one should ever take the law into their own hands, or attempt to make themselves the judge, jury, and executioner. What Kyle Rittenhouse did was reckless, dangerous, and
showed an utter disregard for human life.
My condolences go out to the family, friends, and loved ones of the victims during this difficult time. Let us also remember and pray for Jacob Blake and his family as he continues his journey of rehabilitation."
Statement from Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
"No verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal Gaige Grosskreutz's injuries, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma experienced by Jacob Blake and his family. No ruling today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do toward equity, accountability, and justice that communities across our state are demanding and deserve. Kenoshans are strong, resilient, and have spent the last year working every day together toward healing. This case and the resulting national spotlight on the Kenosha community and our state have undoubtedly reopened wounds that have not yet fully healed. I echo the calls of local Kenosha community leaders and join them in asking everyone who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in any community to please only do so safely and peacefully. We must have peace in Kenosha and our communities, and any efforts or actions aimed at sowing division are unwelcome in our state as they will only hinder that healing. I've seen the pain and the frustration of so many, and we must remain steadfast in our commitment to ending violence in our communities, supporting victims and survivors as they heal from trauma, and rooting out the disparities that are so often inextricably linked to that violence and trauma. We must be unwavering in our promise to build a state where every kid, person, and family can live their life free of violence and have every chance to be successful. We must move forward, together, more united and more motivated to build the sort of future we want for our state-one that is just, one that is equitable, and one where every person has the resources and opportunity to thrive-and I will not stop working to achieve that vision."
Statement from Benjamin Crump, Jacob Blake's attorney
"If you needed yet another example of the two justice systems at work in America, look no further than the delayed arrest, spectacle of a trial, and acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse, a self-declared white nationalist, crossed state lines with an unlawfully possessed AR-15 to be an instigator and provocateur in the anti-racism protests in Kenosha. By the end of the night, he had killed two people and left others injured in his wake. And instead of being arrested on the spot by law enforcement, he walked away scot-free. From the outset, this case has pulled back the curtain on the profound cracks in our justice system - from the deep bias routinely and unabashedly displayed by the judge, to the apathy of officers who witnessed Rittenhouse's crimes and did nothing. If we were talking about a Black man, the conversation and outcome would be starkly different. But we're not...we're talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, a racist, homicidal vigilante who, like so many white men before him, not only escaped accountability, but laughed in its face. Today, I pray for the victims, I pray for our country, I pray for our children and grandchildren, and I pray that this travesty of a case is an outlier on our path to a more just system, and not a signal of retreat backwards. Because, we simply can't afford it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.