Kansas City Homeowner Charged In Shooting Of Teen Who Accidentally Went To Wrong House
Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager, was shot twice after ringing the wrong doorbell while trying to pick up his younger siblings. Now, the white homeowner, Andrew Lester, will face felony charges.
On April 13, 2023, Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old white man, allegedly shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl when the Black teen showed up at his Kansas City, Missouri house by mistake.
On April 17, Clay County attorney Zachary Thompson announced that Lester will face two felony charges: assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. The next day, Lester turned himself into police.
On April 13, Ralph Yarl’s mother asked him to pick up his younger twin brothers from their friend’s house. Yarl, a high school junior, agreed to do the errand. However, he got the address wrong and accidentally arrived at a house on Northeast 115 Street, instead of where his brothers were at Northeast 115th Terrace.
Yarl walked up to the door of the mistaken address, expecting to get his brothers, and he was instead met with Andrew Lester who shot him in the head and in the arm. The New York Times reported that Yarl managed to get to another nearby house as he was bleeding from his critical injuries. He was told to lie on the ground while the neighbor called for help.
Yarl survived his injuries that could have been fatal. He was released from the hospital on Sunday, April 16, according to the Kansas City Star, and he is now recovering at home.
Lester was initially questioned by police, then released without charges. When people in the community learned about the situation, and the quick release of Lester, outrage spread. Protestors marched by Lester’s house.
Prosecutor Zachary Thompson finally announced the charges against Lester on April 17. He confirmed, “I can tell you there was a racial component to this case.”
Thompson was later asked about the possibility of filing hate crime charges against the white homeowner. According to CNN, Thompson explained that “in Missouri, a hate crime is a lower level of felony and adding such charges could constitute double jeopardy”.
If convicted Lester is convicted of the charges against him, he could face life in prison.
Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt are representing teen Ralph Yarl and his family. They told NPR, "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."
President Joe Biden called the teenager and spoke to Yarl and his family. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out on Twitter, stating that she and her husband were praying for Yarl as he fought for his life. She added, "Let's be clear: No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell. Every child deserves to be safe."
Ralph’s aunt has started a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical expenses.