Young man reportedly went to wrong house
By Kristina Dixon | Across black america
A White 84-year-old homeowner 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 Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson announced late last month.
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.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Thompson said at a news conference without elaborating.
When asked whether Lester may also face hate crime charges, the prosecutor said that in Missouri, a hate crime is a lower level of felony, and that adding such charges could constitute double jeopardy.
There is no indication that Lester or Ralph spoke to one another before the Thursday evening shooting, Thompson 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.
There is no video of the encounter, Thompson said. Family attorney Ben Crump said in a statement, “While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery.”
Two representatives at the Kansas City Police Department detention unit previously told CNN the suspect was taken into custody on April 13 just before midnight but was released less than two hours later, at 1:24 a.m. on April 14.
Thompson said Lester was only held for several hours after he was initially detained because police recognized that more investigative work needed to be done.
According to a probable cause statement, Lester told investigators he was “scared to death” by Yarl’s size and his inability to defend himself at age 84. He told investigators he was in bed when he heard his doorbell ring and grabbed a handgun before answering the door.
“He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice (through an exterior storm door) within a few seconds of opening the (main) door,” a police detective writes in the court document.
Yarl was shot twice, with bullets striking him in the left forehead and right arm, according to the probable cause statement. He has since been released from the hospital.