Missouri authorities have charged the white Kansas City homeowner who shot Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old honors student who went to the wrong house while trying to pick up his younger siblings.
Andrew Lester, 85, will face two felony charges in the matter, Clay County Prosecutor Zachary said Monday in a press conference.
“There was a racial component to the case,” Thompson said, but did not elaborate.
Lester will face charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. When asked why he was not being charged with attempted murder, Thompson explained that the possible sentence under assault was more severe.
“Ralph went to pick up his younger brothers from a friend’s house on April 13, according to an April 14 video posted to TikTok by Ralph’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore. However, she said Ralph did not have his phone to figure out the directions and pulled into the driveway of the wrong house. The house he was looking for was on 115th Terrace but he mistakenly went to 115th Street, one block over,” The Daily Beast reports.
“A man opened up the door, looked [Ralph] in the eye, and said, ‘Don’t ever come back here,’ as he shot him in the head,” Spoonmore, on the brink of tears, said in the video. “My nephew fell down, and the man shot him again.”
Ralph’s grandfather, Sebastian Nagbe, told The Daily Beast in a text message on Monday that his grandson was “hanging in there.”
The talented musician and aspiring scientist “continues to improve,” is responsive, and is home after spending three nights in the hospital, his father, Paul Yarl, said. Yarl added that Ralph’s mother, a nurse, took time off from work to tend to her son.
The charges against Lester were issued just hours after a representative for Yarl’s family accused local police of not being honest about why they hadn’t yet arrested Lester, who at that point had not been named.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Ralph Yarl’s family, said in a social media post on Monday that Ralph gave a bedside interview to investigators while hospitalized on Friday, directly contradicting a narrative offered by police that no arrest had yet been made because cops had thus far been unable to take a victim statement.
Merritt also said the alleged shooter was detained for two hours, not 24 hours, as KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said previously.