16-year-old Ralph Yarl of Kansas City, Missouri was shot in the head twice after ringing the doorbell of the wrong house, and now activists are stepping up to deliver justice.
UPDATE: The shooter was finally charged.
* Prosecutors in Kansas City, Missouri, have filed felony charges against the homeowner accused of shooting Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager who was shot when he went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings last week.
At a news conference Monday evening, Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson announced two felony charges against the suspect, Andrew D. Lester, whom he described as a White man who is 85 years old. The charges are one count of assault in the first degree, with a potential punishment of up to life in prison, and one count of armed criminal action.
16-year-old Ralph Yarl was going to pick up his younger twin brothers from their friend's house in Kansas City, Missouri when he accidentally drove to the wrong address, pulled into the driveway and rang the doorbell.
Yarl's siblings were at a house on 115th Terrace, but he accidentally went to the same address on 115th Street He was then allegedly shot by the occupant of the house, once in the head and again in the arm after he had fallen to the ground.
The Kansas City Defender reported the first shot was made through the glass door of the residence, meaning the occupant didn't even open the second door before opening fire.
CNN reported the alleged shooter was an 80-year-old White man. Records indicate he was taken into custody just before midnight, then released less than 2 hours later without charges.
Dr. Faith Spoonmore, Ralph Yarl's aunt, told The Kansas City Defender:
"This was not an ‘error’; this was a hate crime. You don’t shoot a child in the head because he rang your doorbell."
"The fact that the police said it was an ‘error’ is why America is the way it is."
She called for accountability for the shooter.
"This man intended to kill an innocent child simply because he rang the doorbell of the wrong house."
"He looked him in the face and shot him… and the individual is free to go about his day as if he did a great deed."
"While my nephew Ralph Yarl is a great kid, an intelligent kid, a Black boy is left with so many broken pieces."
Missouri law allows a suspect to be held for 24 hours for a felony investigation, but the suspect was released almost immediately instead of being held in custody.
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said during a press conference on Sunday the suspect was placed on a 24 hour hold, but was quickly released pending further investigation after the department consulted the Clay County prosecutor’s office—despite detectives having located the firearm used in the shooting.
Zachary Thompson, Clay County Prosecutor, released a statement on Monday that said:
"We have not yet received a criminal referral from the Kansas City Police Department regarding this case."
"However, we are actively working with law enforcement in an attempt to speed up that process so that we can review the file when it is submitted and determine whether criminal charges are appropriate."
\u201cClay County Prosecutor, Zachary Thompson released a statement: "We have not yet received a criminal referral from the Kansas City Police Department regarding this case...we are actively working with law enforcement in an attempt to speed up that process..."\u201d— KCTV5 News (@KCTV5 News) 1681744606
People were both astounded and outraged by Yarl's shooting.
The outpouring of support for him on social media was huge.
\u201c16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot twice for ringing the doorbell of a wrong house while trying to pick his sibling up.\n\nHe and his family deserve justice.\u201d— Nina Turner (@Nina Turner) 1681737302
\u201cHis name is #RalphYarl and I\u2019m sick and tired of this feeling\u2026my heart completely broke when I learned this precious 16-year-old, who accidentally rang the door of the wrong address in an attempt to pick up his siblings, was shot in the head\u2026 (1/3)\u201d— Halle Berry (@Halle Berry) 1681693236
\u201cHave you ever rang the wrong doorbell? I have.\n\nHas anyone rang your doorbell by mistake? Yes.\n\nNot pounding the door down or yelling threats. \u2014 Just rang the doorbell. \n\nMeet 16 year old Ralph Yarl who was shot twice after accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell while attempting\u2026\u201d— Christopher Webb (@Christopher Webb) 1681745220
\u201cMy heart breaks a whole lot for 16yo Ralph Yarl, who was shot twice after mistakenly ringing the doorbell of a white man in Kansas City.\n\nWhere on earth are Black people safe? For crying out loud, Ralph is a 16yo CHILD. No, I'm not okay. This makes me sick. Very sick.\u201d— Birgit Uwaila Umaigba (@Birgit Uwaila Umaigba) 1681749464
\u201cThe shooting of Ralph Yarl has really disturbed me, it is a miracle that he is still alive. Justice needs to be delivered and swiftly.\u201d— Jason Okundaye (@Jason Okundaye) 1681755710
\u201cThere is something very wrong in America when a Black youth gets shot in the head for ringing the wrong door bell. \n\nI pray that Ralph Yarl continues to recover. \n\nAnd, I join Americans in asking that Kansas City law enforcement bring charges against this homeowner.\u201d— Shuwaski Young for Mississippi (@Shuwaski Young for Mississippi) 1681760601
\u201cAs someone who is still recovering from a gunshot to the head, I am heartbroken and infuriated that Ralph Yarl now faces a lifetime of recovery.\n\nAt 16 years old. For simply ringing a doorbell.\n\nWe cannot continue to be a nation defined by gun violence and injustice.\u201d— Gabrielle Giffords (@Gabrielle Giffords) 1681746872
Ralph Yarl went home on Sunday, after 3 days in the hospital.
His father, Paul Yarl, said he is recovering.
"He continues to improve. He’s responsive and he’s making good progress."
Yarl's mother is a nurse and is caring for him at home now that he has been discharged from the hospital.
Dr. Spoonmore has set up a GoFundMe to help cover Yarl's medical bills and therapy. They stated any extra money raised will be used for his college expenses at Texas A&M and other expenses.