KENOSHA, Wis. — An Illinois 17-year-old who was charged with shooting three people, including two fatally, during a Wisconsin protest over police brutality, said he used pandemic relief funds to pay for the assault-style rifle that a friend purchased for him.

Kyle Rittenhouse spoke to the Washington Post by phone from a juvenile detention facility. He told the newspaper he was on furlough from the YMCA and used the $1,200 he got from coronavirus Illinois unemployment to buy the gun.

“I was going into a place where people had guns and God forbid somebody brought a gun to me and decided to shoot me,” Rittenhouse said. “I wanted to be protected which I ended up having to protect myself. I don’t regret it. I feel I had to protect myself. I would have died that night if I didn’t.”

Rittenhouse is charged with fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz in Kenosha.

Rosenbaum’s fiancee told the Post that he had just been released from a psychiatric hospital that day.

Rittenhouse’s mother has previously said that her son was using the gun for self-defense.