A White 85-year-old homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri, who allegedly shot and wounded Ralph Yarl, a Black teen, after the 16-year-old went to the wrong home to pick up his siblings will face two felony charges, Clay County attorney Zachary Thompson announced early Monday evening.
Andrew Lester will face charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. Authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest and he’s not currently in custody, Thompson said, according to CNN.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Thompson said at a news conference without elaborating.
There is no indication that either Lester or Yarl spoke to one another before the Thursday evening shooting, he said. The prosecutor added there is no evidence that the teen entered the home and preliminary evidence shows Lester opened fire on the teen through a glass door with a .32 caliber revolver.
Earlier, nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt were retained by the Yarl family. According to the Kansas City Defender, the White man reportedly shot Yarl in the head through the glass door, then when Yarl was already bleeding out on the ground, shot him again.
“The family has described it as a hate crime, and community members are calling for justice for the young victim,” reported The Defender. “This was not an ‘error’; this was a hate crime. You don’t shoot a child in the head because he rang your doorbell. The fact that the police said it was an ‘error’ is why America is the way it is,” Dr. Faith Spoonmore, Yarl’s aunt, told The Defender.
Authorities reportedly escorted the suspect to police headquarters following the shooting, briefly interviewed him, and released the man.
Yarl’s family said they are outraged that the perpetrator had not been held accountable.
“This man intended to kill an innocent child simply because he rang the doorbell of the wrong house,” Dr. Spoonmore asserted. “He looked him in the face and shot him… and the individual is free to go about his day as if he did a great deed. While my nephew Ralph Yarl is a great kid, an intelligent kid, a Black boy is left with so many broken pieces.”
Crump and Merritt, nationally recognized civil rights lawyers who have represented Ahmaud Arbery and Cameron Lamb, announced they would represent Yarl’s family. Shaun King, a well-known activist and journalist announced that he’s also assisting with the case.
The Defender, which was the first outlet to report on the shooting, said the Yarl family has urged supporters to help spread awareness about the case and bring attention to the issue of racial violence in America.
“There is no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect after admitting to shooting an unarmed, non-threatening, and defenseless teenager that rang his doorbell,” Crump and Merritt said in a joint statement.
“We demand swift action from Clay County prosecutors and law enforcement to identify, arrest, and prosecute to the full extent of the law the man responsible for this horrendous and unjustifiable shooting.”
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire national senior correspondent.