Charges Filed in Shooting of Kansas City Teen Ralph Yarl Who Rang Wrong Doorbell

The Clay County prosecutor has filed criminal charges against Andrew Lester in the shooting of Ralph Yarl.

via: NBC News

An 85-year-old white man, Andrew Lester, has been charged with two crimes in the April 13 shooting of Ralph Yarl, 16, who is Black: assault in the first degree and armed criminal action, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson said Monday.

A warrant was issued for Lester, who is not in custody, Thompson said, adding that he didn’t know where Lester was.

Lester’s bond was set at $200,000, Thompson said.

Thompson said there was a racial component to the shooting but declined to elaborate. Lester faces a maximum punishment of life in prison in the assault charge and three to 15 years for the alleged gun crime, Thompson said.

Thompson said no words were exchanged before Lester allegedly opened fire with a .32 revolver, striking Yarl twice — once in the head and once in the arm.

Earlier, an attorney for the teen’s family said Yarl’s mother asked him to pick up his 11-year-old twin brothers on Thursday. He went to a home in the 1100 block of Northeast 115th Street instead of Northeast 115th Terrace in Kansas City, Missouri, police said.

He rang the doorbell shortly before 10 p.m. and waited for someone to respond, the attorney, Lee Merritt, told NBC News.

“Whoever was inside took a little longer than he anticipated to respond, and so he just waited at the door,” Merritt said, citing a statement Yarl gave to law enforcement investigators from his hospital bed on Friday.

“He heard rustling around going on in the house and then finally the door was open,” the attorney said. “And he was confronted by a man who told him, ‘Don’t come back around here,’ and then he immediately fired his weapon.”

Yarl was shot in the head, which cracked his skull and left him with a critical, traumatic brain injury, the attorney said. While the teenager was still on the ground, the homeowner opened fire a second time, striking Yarl in the upper right arm, Merritt said.

How the encounter turned violent so quickly still confuses Yarl as he recovers, his aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said.

“We’ll remind him like, ‘Ralph, you’re alive, buddy.’ And then he has the times where he’s like, ‘Why? I did nothing wrong. Why? I did nothing wrong.’ And he just cannot understand why,” Spoonmore said. “So it’s waves. He goes through waves.”

Merritt said Yarl is now in stable condition and out of the hospital.

The shooter was taken into custody and held for 24 hours, the maximum for a suspect in a felony until charges are filed, Police Chief Stacey Graves said.

Yarl said the person who shot him was a white man who “seemed angry and hostile” by his presence on the property, his attorney said.

Merritt said the teenager miraculously saved his own life by fleeing and banging on at least three neighbors’ doors for help.

At the third home, Merritt said the neighbor told Yarl to lie on the ground and put his hands in the air. He complied and then passed out, the attorney said.

Merritt said the neighborhood where the shooting occurred is predominantly white and conservative and “commonly referred to among locals as God’s country.”

“We’ve heard reports from Black people who live in the neighborhood, who visit the neighborhood, that there seems to be a standing hostility towards Black presence in that community,” he said.

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