84-year-old homeowner charged in shooting of black teen who knocked on wrong door; race was a factor, prosecutor claims

A white Kansas City, Missouri homeowner named Andrew Lester has been arrested for first-degree assault after shooting a black teenager named Ralph Yarl in the head when he mistakenly rang his doorbell in an attempt to pick up his younger brothers.

(Video Credit: FOX4 News Kansas City)

Lester is 84 years old. He shot Yarl through a glass window and never opened the door. He claimed he feared for his life which is an assertion that will in all likelihood not help him in court given the circumstances.

The homeowner is facing two felony charges and a warrant was issued for his arrest on Monday according to Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson.

In this case, the prosecutor claimed that race played a factor in the incident. The gifted student was shot twice, once in the head and then in the arm when he fell on the ground.

Thompson was asked why Lester was not charged with attempted murder and said they had decided to charge him with “A felony” because it was the most serious crime and was the appropriate charge. The shooting was branded as a hate crime by the family.

“It is the highest level of offense in the state of Missouri,” the prosecutor asserted. “Other charges may not carry that same level of range of punishment.”

“I can tell you there was a racial component to the case,” Thompson commented, without offering evidence, according to the Daily Mail.

Lester’s bond was set at $200,000. He could face life in prison on the assault charge if he is convicted. He could also get 3 to 15 years for armed criminal action.

Yarl pulled into the driveway of the home at approximately 10 pm on April 13. The mistaken address was a block away from where his twin brothers were waiting. When the teen rang the doorbell, Lester, who had been trying to sleep evidently, immediately shot him in the head through the glass. He then shot the boy again as he was on the ground and reportedly said, “Don’t come around here.”

The boy survived and miraculously is home now with his family. His mother is a nurse and is taking care of him. He was released only four days after the life-threatening shot to his head according to the family’s attorney Ben Crump.

“It was appropriate for the prosecutor to charge him and the only tragedy was that it took so long for them to charge him. 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,” Crump said in a statement.

“He continues to improve. He’s responsive and he’s making good progress,” Paul Yarl, the boy’s father also remarked in a statement.

The boy’s family spoke with President Biden on Monday who invited them to the White House and said he is praying for them. He, of course, pushed gun control.

“Moments after the family got off the phone with President Biden, who offered his prayers for Ralph’s health and for justice, we learned that the prosecutor will be charging the man who is responsible for the deplorable shooting of this innocent boy,” Crump noted.

“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,” he added.

Lester was questioned by the police immediately after the shooting. However, he was released two hours after being detained without any charges. That enraged the family and the community. Protests erupted over what was perceived as injustice.

Yarl gave a statement to the police last Friday while in the hospital as well.

As celebrities have rallied around the teen, a GoFundMe account set up by his family has raised over $1.7 million so far for medical bills and legal aid.

This incident, which was immediately tied to race, is not the only one that has occurred recently. Another shooting occurred in upstate New York on Saturday with a car mistakenly pulling into the wrong driveway. This time a 20-year-old woman was killed and it had nothing to do with the color of their skin. All those involved appeared to be white.

Kaylin Gillis, who was from Saratoga County, was tragically inside the vehicle with three friends when they made a wrong turn into a driveway around 10 pm while searching for a friend’s house in the town of Hebron, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

As the driver of the car was attempting to leave, Kevin Monahan, the owner of the home, allegedly fired two shots from his patio into the vehicle, authorities recounted. Gillis was struck by one of the bullets and was killed. The group never left the vehicle and did not know the homeowner.

Monahan, 65, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy revealed during a press conference on Monday.

“This is a very sad case of some young adults who were looking for a friend’s house and ended up at this man’s house who decided to come out with a firearm and discharge it,” Murphy remarked.

After Gillis was shot, the friends drove away until they could call for help in a neighboring town because cell phone coverage was spotty according to the New York Post. Gillis was pronounced dead when first responders reached the car.

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