Andrew Lester Kansas City 85yr old man charged with racial shooting of 16 year old black teen, Ralph Yarl knocking on wrong door when picking up younger brothers.
Missouri authorities have charged a 85 year old white Kansas City homeowner with first-degree assault for shooting 16-year-old black boy when he mistakenly rung his doorbell in Kansas City, Missouri.
Andrew D. Lester, 85, is facing two felony charges and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, following the shooting of Ralph Yarl, 16, Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson revealed on Monday.
The prosecutor confirmed that there was indeed a racial factor in the ordeal as commentators on social media had stated- after the teenage musical scholar was shot twice, in the head and arm, after ringing the wrong doorbell when he went to pick up his younger brothers, Thursday night.
‘I can tell you there was a racial component to the case,’ said Thompson.
Lester’s bond is set at $200,000. If convicted, Lester could face life in prison for the assault charge, and 3 to 15 years for armed criminal action.
Immediately shot in the head by the homeowner
The 85 year old Kansas City homeowner is accused of shooting scholar and musician Yarl twice through glass at the front of the house, just a block away from the property his younger twin brothers were waiting to be picked up.
He pulled into the driveway of the home around 10pm on April 13, rang the doorbell, and was immediately shot in the head by the homeowner.
He survived, andwas released from hospital after only four days, in what family attorney Ben Crump said was a miracle.
‘He continues to improve. He’s responsive and he’s making good progress,’ said his father, Paul.
‘It was appropriate for the prosecutor to charge him and the only tragedy was that it took so long for them to charge him,’ Crump said.
‘I think it is appropriate, you can’t send a message to society that it’s okay to shoot black people in the head just for ringing your doorbell.’
President Joe Biden rang the Yarl family on Monday, and invited them to the White House when Ralph is well enough.
84-yo Andrew Lester charged with shooting 16-yo #RalphYarl. Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted. While this is certainly a step in the RIGHT direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery. pic.twitter.com/yT2p3AGoLS
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 18, 2023
Gun violence against unarmed black individuals
Added Crump: ‘Gun violence against unarmed black individuals must stop.
‘Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted.
‘While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery.’
Asked why Lester was not charged with attempted murder, prosecutors said they had decided to charge the homeowner with an ‘A felony’ because it was the most serious crime.
‘It is the highest level of offense in the state of Missouri,’ said Thompson.
‘Other charges may not carry that same level of range of punishment.’
It’s on the mailbox and a zillow lookup said andrew Lester…. pic.twitter.com/JOOQYPoNTF
— Michael Kelly (Veteran and Libertarian ideals) (@NineStripeVet) April 17, 2023
What if he were a white teen, would the homeowner still have fired his weapon?
The doorbell had a small ‘no solicitors’ sign on top, while another sign claimed the property was ‘protected by surveillance cameras.’
At the time of the incident, Lester was taken in for questioning immediately after the shooting, only to be released two hours after he was arrested – without any charges.
Police took a statement from Ralph in hospital last Friday before he was released from hospital on Monday, to continue to recover at home with his mother – who is a nurse.
Yarl said he was immediately shot in the head and fell to the ground where he was shot a second time, this time in the right arm. Yarl told police the man said: ‘Don’t come around here.’
In the aftermath of the attack, more than $2.1million (and rising) had been raised by a GoFundMe account to help Ralph and his family with the medical bills.
The teenager’s family has since branded the incident a ‘hate crime’. It remained unclear whether prosecutors would seek to also add those charges against the homeowner.
Ralph’s aunt, Dr Faith Spoonmore, claims when the teenager fell to the floor, he was shot again – but miraculously managed to run next door to a neighbor for help.
She said her nephew had to knock on three doors before he was helped, and even then was told to lie on the floor with his hands above his head.
‘This was not an ‘error’. This is a hate crime. You don’t shoot a child in the head because he rang your doorbell,’ she said in an Instagram post (see below).
Dr. Faith Spoonmore is the aunt of Ralph Yarl. Please don’t scroll by and not listen! #ralphyarl pic.twitter.com/FvlUh33IQQ
— alexa, tell me a dad joke👨👧👦 1 to go 🦅 (@fitdadceo) April 16, 2023
Racism in America
‘He walked up to the door, rang the doorbell. A man opened up the door, looked him in the eye and said don’t ever come back here as he shot him in the head.
‘My nephew fell down and the man shot him again, he was able to get up and ran to the neighbor, who did not open the door. He ran to three houses before one of the neighbors said put your hands up and lay on the ground.
‘And then he lay on the ground like he passed out before the neighbor called the police for help.
‘You hear these stories about racism in America and you think wow, how sad is that?
‘But then you have this little bit of hope because you feel like it’s very far away and it would never happen to your family and you. But God, the people in this country are sick.’
On their GoFundMe page they say that he is ‘doing well physically’ but has a ‘long road ahead mentally and emotionally.’
Ralph was known among his peers for his intellect and for being a ‘musical genius’, before he was shot in the head and arm.
The teen had received a letter from Yale Undergraduate Admissions Board identifying him as a ‘good candidate’ for the prestigious Ivy league university.
Ralph is part of his high school’s Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team, plays in the marching, jazz, and competition band, and is one of the top base clarinet players in Missouri.
Are hate crime charges forthcoming?
The teen according to his family had dreams of attending college after being recognized as a Missouri scholar academy alumni in 2022.
Ralph’s attorneys specialize in civil rights and previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Cameron Lamb.
Police Chief Stacey Graves said in a news conference on Sunday: ‘I want everyone to know that I am listening and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community.
‘After consulting with the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office, the homeowner was released pending further investigation due to the need to obtain a formal statement from the victim, forensic evidence and compile additional information for a case file to be presented.
‘Detectives have been working over the past several days to compile a detailed case file so they have all the information they need to make the best charging decision on the case moving forward.
‘We want the community to know that we are committed to justice in this case, and every case and work every day to seek that justice for all victims of all crimes.’
She noted that Missouri law allows a person to be held up to 24 hours for a felony investigation, and following that they must be arrested or formally charged.
Investigators will also consider whether or not the suspect was protected within the Stand Your Ground laws.
Officials would not confirm the number of times the homeowner shot the victim or where his injuries were.