Kansas City D.A. charges 84-year-old who shot Ralph Yarl, teen who knocked on wrong door
04/18/2023 12:10 pm PDT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TCD) -- The Clay County Prosecutor’s Office officially filed charges against the 84-year-old man who allegedly shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl last week after the teen knocked on the wrong door.
According to Andrew Lester’s probable cause affidavit, on Thursday, April 13, at approximately 9:52 p.m., Kansas City Police responded to a home at 1100 NE 115th St. regarding a shooting. Officers found the victim, Yarl, in the street in front of 1106 NE 115th St. and transported him to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Police located the suspected gunman, Andrew Lester, in his home with a shattered glass storm door. Lester gave a police officer permission to search his residence while another officer transported him to the Kansas City Police Department.
The affidavit says the officer who looked through Lester’s home noticed blood on the front porch, driveway, and street.
On the night he got shot, Yarl went to go pick up his younger brothers at a house a few blocks away from where he lived, but he went to the wrong address. The correct home was one block over at 1100 NE 115th Terrace. The GoFundMe created by Yarl’s aunt alleges Lester shot Yarl in the head, then shot him again after he fell down. Yarl ran to a neighbor’s house for help.
Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, wrote, "Unfortunately, he had to run to three different homes before someone finally agreed to help him after he was told to lie on the ground with his hands up."
Lester reportedly told Kansas City Police that he had just gotten into bed when he heard the doorbell ring. He got up, picked up his .32 Smith and Wesson, and "saw a Black male approximately 6 feet tall pulling on the exterior storm door handle."
Lester said he thought Yarl was trying to break in, so he shot the teen twice "within a few seconds of opening the door."
The affidavit says Lester "stated he had never seen the male before," and the two men did not speak to each other before Yarl allegedly pulled on the door handle. Lester alleged he was "'scared to death' due to the male’s size and Lester’s age and inability to defend himself."
Yarl spoke with police and said he "did not pull on the door" and that was his first time ever going to the home. He alleged Lester yelled at him, "Don’t come around here" after shooting him. He was struck in the head and arm.
Yarl reportedly told investigators he "went to multiple residences asking for assistance and telling people to call police."
On Monday, April 17, Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson announced in a press conference his office was charging Lester with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. The assault charge is a class A felony, which means Lester could face up to life in prison if he is convicted. The armed criminal action charge faces a prison sentence of three to 15 years.
Thompson said in the press conference he believes there was a "racial component to the case."
According to KCTV-TV, Yarl has been released from the hospital.
His mother, Cleo Nagbe, told "CBS This Morning," "While he was standing there, his brothers didn’t run outside. But he got a couple of bullets in his body instead of a couple of twins coming out and giving him a hug."
Nagabe also said her son is "able to communicate mostly when he feels like it, but mostly he just sits there and stares and the buckets of tears just rolls down his eyes."
Yarl’s family retained prominent civil rights attorneys Lee Merritt and Ben Crump to represent them.
The two attorneys said in a joint statement, "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. 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."
Yarl is reportedly a star student and musician at his high school. The North Kansas City Schools superintendent said in a statement, "Ralph is an excellent student and talented musician. He maintains a stellar GPA while taking mostly college level courses. While he loves science and hopes to pursue that career path, his passion is music. Thankfully, we know he is now recovering alongside family."
According to the GoFundMe, Yarl is section leader of his school’s marching band, a member of the Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team, and an alumni of the Missouri Scholar Academy. His aunt said his goal is to attend Texas A&M University and major in chemical engineering.
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