Blake, a 29-year-old Black father of six, is said to be paralyzed. He was shot in the back by police at point blank range in front of three of his children, according to bystander video and statements from his family. The shooting occurred after Blake broke up a fight between two women, witnesses said.
The shooting sparked days of protests in which numerous vehicles and buildings were vandalized and set on fire in Kenosha, prompting the county to declare an emergency curfew. The county sheriff told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Tuesday that an armed "militia" had taken to the streets to protect property amid the unrest.
Police responded late Tuesday night to dozens of gun shots at an area where protesters had gathered, the Kenosha News reported. Two victims were fatally shot, while another was transported to a hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries, according to the Kenosha Police Department. No other details were released.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth confirmed one fatality early Wednesday morning, noting that both the shooter and the victim were white. Authorities said they are looking for a "man armed with a long gun," the Journal-Sentinel reported.
Beth said no one had been taken into custody, though he added that he expects to apprehend the shooter soon.
"I feel very confident we'll have him in a very short time," he told the outlet.
A widely shared video posted to Twitter showed a man running with a long gun as a crowd chased after him. Moments later, more shots are heard. Another graphic video showed a man shot in the head, apparently after pursuing the gunman.
"We were all chanting 'Black Lives Matter' at the gas station, and then we heard 'boom, boom.' And I told my friend, `'That's not fireworks,'" protester Devin Scott told the Chicago Tribune. "And then this guy with this huge gun runs by us in the middle of the street. And people are yelling, 'He shot someone! He shot someone!' And everyone is trying to fight the guy, chasing him. And then he started shooting again."
Other videos show the man with the long gun heading toward several police tactical vehicles with his hands raised, but the "tactical vehicles drive by him," according to the Journal-Sentinel.
Many on social media alleged that a member of the armed group was responsible for the shooting, but Beth stressed that he did not know whether the individual was part of the group or whether there was more than one shooter.
"They're a militia," he said. "They're like a vigilante group."
The Journal-Sentinel identified the group as the self-proclaimed Kenosha Guard, which asked members on Facebook to protect property.
"Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend out [sic] City tonight from the evil thugs?" the group said in one post. "Nondoubt [sic] they are currently planning on the next part of the City to burn tonight!"
The group later published a post directed to Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis.
"I ask that you do NOT have your officers tell us to go home under threat of arrest as you have done in the past," the group said. "We are willing to talk to KPD and open a discussion. It is evident, that no matter how many Officers, deputies, and other law enforcement officers that are here, you will still be outnumbered."
Beth said he had even been asked to deputize citizens to help police the unrest.
"I've had people saying, 'Why don't you deputize citizens?'" he said. "This is why you don't deputize citizens with guns to protect Kenosha."
Beth said the FBI was assisting with the investigation, adding that about 250 law enforcement officers and 250 members of the National Guard had already deployed amid Tuesday's unrest.
Gov. Tony Evers declared an emergency ahead of the violence.
"We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue," he said. "We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction."
Blake's family denounced the vandalism and looting seen in recent days when it spoke Tuesday to the media.
"It doesn't reflect my son or my family," Blake's mother Julia Jackson said. "The violence and the destruction – he would be very unpleased. So I'm really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment in expanding your hearts. Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians – do hake up justice on this level, and examine your hearts."
His father, Jacob Blake Sr., said it would "take a miracle" for his son to walk again.
"They shot my son seven times – seven times – like he didn't matter," he said. "But my son matters. He's a human being, and he matters."
Letetra Wideman, one of Blake's sisters, said she was "not sad" and did not want "pity" at the news conference.
"I want change," she said. "I'm angry, and I'm tired. I haven't cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb. I have been watching police murder people who look like me for years."