The man who shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in Kansas City, Missouri, is back in custody after initially being held for 24 hours and released. When we first reported this story, the race of the man who allegedly shot Ralph after the teen went to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers was unclear. Now, it has been confirmed that he’s white. Officials said initially that there was no evidence the shooting was racially motivated, but now, a Missouri prosecutor is saying there is, indeed, a “racial component. (Try not to pass out from shock.)
According to the Associated Press, 84-year-old Andrew Lester has been charged with first-degree assault in the shooting of Ralph, who, thankfully, is currently recovering at home after being shot twice.
“We understand how frustrating this has been but I can assure you the criminal justice system is working and will continue to work,” Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson said in reference to the community outrage over the shooting, which sparked a protest outside of Lester’s home over the weekend.
Here are a few more details that have been released about the shooting as reported by AP:
Ralph Yarl, an honor student and all-state band member, was supposed to pick up his two younger brothers when he approached the wrong house at roughly 10 p.m. Lester came to the door and shot Yarl in the forehead — then shot him again, in the right forearm.
No words were exchanged before the shooting, the probable cause statement said. But afterward, as Yarl got up to run, he heard Lester yell, “Don’t come around here,” the statement said.
Ralph Yarl ran to “multiple” homes asking for help before finding someone who would call the police, the statement said.
Despite the appearance that Andrew Lester saw a Black kid at his door and instinctively shot first and asked questions never, he wasn’t charged with a hate crime. According to Thompson, a hate crime in Missouri is considered a lesser felony than first-degree assault and carries a less severe penalty. (Missouri law is also why Lester was previously released after a 24-hour hold. Apparently, for him to be held longer, investigators needed a statement from the victim, who, at the time, was in the hospital fighting for his life. Maybe it’s time for Missouri lawmakers to revisit a few state policies.)
Fortunately, Lester is facing up to life in prison for what he has been charged with, which includes a charge of armed criminal action, for which the penalty is three to 15 years in prison.
Lester reportedly told police that he had just gone to bed when he heard the doorbell, which prompted him to pick up his gun and go to the door where he saw a Black male pulling on the exterior storm door handle and thought someone was breaking in—because, obviously, it’s reasonable to assume someone is a home intruder after they *checks notes* ring the doorbell.
While Missouri is one of roughly 30 states that has implemented the ever-problematic “Stand Your Ground” law, Thompson determined that the shooting was not an act of self-defense.
“He got a couple of bullets inside his body, instead of a couple of twins coming out and giving him a hug,” Ralph’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, said during an interview with Gayle King. She also commented on her son’s condition saying, “Ralph is doing considerably well.”
“Physically, mornings are hard, but his spirits are in a good place,” she continued. “I borrow from his spirits. He is in very good hands.”
Nagbe added that 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.” She added that “you can see that he is just replaying the situation over and over again, and that just doesn’t stop my tears either.”
So, now that Ralph’s shooter has been charged, we have to wait and see if he’ll be convicted before we can celebrate justice being served. It’s unclear if Andrew Lester has retained an attorney or when he will be arraigned.
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