White homeowner facing charges for allegedly shooting teen who went to wrong house

Francis Akhalbey April 18, 2023
Andrew Lester, 85, is accused of shooting Ralph Yarl after the Black teen went to the wrong home -- Left photo credit: Kansas City Missouri Police Department | Right photo via GoFundMe

Authorities in Missouri on Monday brought two felony charges against a White homeowner who allegedly shot a 16-year-old Black boy after he went to a wrong home address and rang the doorbell. According to NBC News, the April 13 shooting occurred while Ralph Yarl was in the process of picking his younger brothers up.

On Monday, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney, Zachary Thompson, said the shooter, identified as 85-year-old Andrew Lester, has since been charged with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. Thompson also said the bond for the suspect had been set at $200,000.

Though Thompson also commented that race played a factor in the shooting, he did not provide further details on that. If found guilty of the assault charge, Lester could be sentenced to life in prison, Thompson said, adding that the suspect also faces three to 15 years if he’s convicted of the gun charge. 

The Black teen was outside Lester’s Kansas City home when the White man shot him from the inside, causing the minor to sustain a gunshot wound to the head and arm after Lester opened fire on him.  

The attorney for Yarl’s family, Lee Merritt, told the news outlet that the teen’s relatives welcomed the charges brought against the suspect. “We need him to be prepared to face full accountability for his actions,” said Merritt.

The attorney said Yarl had gone to the supposed address to pick his younger twin siblings up after his mother asked him to. However, the teen mistook the 1100 block of Northeast 115th Street for a residence in Northeast 115th Terrace, police say.

After arriving at Lester’s home that night, Merritt said Yarl rang the doorbell and waited for a response. “Whoever was inside took a little longer than he anticipated to respond, and so he just waited at the door,” Merritt said, making reference to a statement Yarl provided to authorities after he was taken to the hospital following the shooting, per NBC News.

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

The attorney also said Lester initially shot Yarl in the head before he opened fire on him again as he was on the ground. The Black teen suffered a cracked skull and traumatic brain injury from the shot in his head.

In the wake of the shooting, Lester, in a statement, told authorities he thought a Black man he saw at his door was trying to break into his home. He also said he fired the shots shortly after he opened the door, adding that he did not speak with the victim.

The statement said the 85-year-old man “stated it was the last thing he wanted to do, but he was ‘scared to death’ due to the male’s size and LESTER’S age.” But Yarl told authorities he did not “pull on the door.”

Yarl has since been discharged from the hospital. His attorney also listed his condition as stable, adding that he had a phone conversation with President Joe Biden on Monday.

“Ralph just got off the phone with the president of the United States tonight,” Merritt said. “He’s relieved by the outpouring of support. And like I said, he had a chance to speak with the White House, and the president of the United States can get some direction currently.”

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 18, 2023


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