KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Clay County prosecutor has charged an 84-year-old man in the shooting of a Kansas City 16-year-old who went to the wrong address to pick up his siblings last week.
Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson announced Andrew Lester has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. A warrant has been issued for the man’s arrest; his bond has been set at $200,000.
The news came shortly after the Kansas City Police Department said it has submitted its case file on the shooting of Ralph Yarl to the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office to review for possible charges.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who are representing the Yarl family, released the following statement after the charges were announced:
“Moments after the family got off the phone with President Biden, who offered his prayers for Ralph’s health and for justice, we learned that the prosecutor will be charging the man who is responsible for the deplorable shooting of this innocent boy.
“Gun violence against unarmed Black individuals must stop. Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery.”
Paul Yarl confirmed to FOX4 earlier Monday that his son Ralph is out of the hospital Monday and on the road to recovery.
Lester allegedly shot Ralph Yarl Thursday night after the teen went to the wrong home to pick up his younger siblings.
Kansas City police said just before 10 p.m. April 13, Ralph meant to go to a home on N.E. 115th Terrace when he mistakenly went to a house on N.E. 115th Street.
When Ralph arrived at the home, the homeowner shot him, police said.
According to his family, Ralph was shot twice, including once in the head. Police would not confirm how many times or where he was shot.
Court documents say Lester fired through a glass door and Yarl did not enter the home, Thompson said Monday.
“As the prosecutor of Clay County, I can tell you there was a racial component,” Thompson said.
The prosecutor said Lester used a .32 revolver, but he did not have any information on if the gun was registered or not.
The night of the shooting, Lester was taken into police custody for questioning. He was then released pending further investigation.
“In this case, the prosecutor requires more information from investigators that would take more than 24 hours to compile,” KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said Sunday.
Councilman Brandon Ellington called for immediate charges to be brought forth, saying there is “no justification for mistakenly shooting someone, let alone a child.”
“Failure to prosecute in this case would appear to be misconduct even though prosecutor’s have discretion,” Ellington said in a statement.
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department said the agency had submitted its case file on the shooting to the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office to review for possible charges.
In a news conference later Monday, Thompson announced Lester has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.
A warrant has been issued for the man’s arrest; he is not in custody at this time. His bond has been set at $200,000.
“In this moment, it is imperative that we allow local law enforcement to investigate all the facts of the shooting. We must ensure that justice is served and the law is upheld. Mr. Yarl and our communities in Kansas City deserve nothing less,” Congressman Emanuel Cleaver said in a statement.
As of Monday morning, more than $1.2 million had been raised through a GoFundMe campaign to support the 16-year-old.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes also put his support behind the Kansas City teen.
“My prayers and support are for Ralph and his recovery. You never want these situations to happen,” Mahomes said Monday.
“It seemed like it should have never even happened. This should have been an easy conversation and both people go on their ways, this kid being able to pick up his family members and being with his family right now and not in a hospital.”
Mahomes said he’s praying for Ralph Yarl and his recovery.
“Then just hopefully the justice system does right by him, and everyone involved we’re able to not have these conversations and we are able to hold each other accountable for our actions,” the Chiefs QB continued.
“So obviously more and more details are hopefully gonna come out and he makes a full recovery and then the justice system does its part and that we’re all held accountable every single day.”
Nearly 1,000 people marched through Kansas City’s Northland on Sunday in support of the injured teen.
“Ralph is quiet. He loves to play video games, play the saxophone and he’s just a good kid, a smart kid, you know,” Paul Yarl told FOX4 Sunday.
Many are not only trying to empathize with the pain Ralph’s family feels but also expressing the idea that it could have been their kid who got an address mixed up.
“This is important. This could be anybody’s child, so I mean with all these people out here, you can see they feel this, too. This could be their child, this could be their son or their daughter,” said Dee Porter, who organized Sunday’s protest.
North Kansas City Schools, where Ralph attended Staley High, released a statement Monday from its superintendent:
“We are devastated to learn one of our students was involved in a horrific incident last week. Ralph Yarl, a junior at Staley High School, was shot after mistakenly arriving at the wrong address to pick up two younger siblings. Our thoughts are with the Yarl family, and I know I speak for all of us when we wish him a full and quick recovery.
“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.
“I know that many of you share the same anger, frustration, shock and disbelief that I am experiencing now. We must allow time for the investigation to be completed. In the meantime, as educators, our focus is on supporting Ralph, his family, our students and staff. Additional resources are available at Staley and throughout our other schools this week. We are prepared and ready to serve.”
Students at Staley High will take part in a unity walk Tuesday, showing support for the 16-year-old and his recovery. Classmates are also collecting cards for Ralph at the school.
The news of Ralph Yarl’s shooting has made headlines across the nation and even grabbed the attention of celebrities.
Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted her support for Ralph.
“Doug and I are praying for Ralph Yarl and his family as he fights for his life. Let’s be clear: No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell. Every child deserves to be safe. That’s the America we are fighting for.”
Actress Halle Berry reacted to the news of the 16-year-old being shot.
“His name is #RalphYarl and I’m sick and tired of this feeling…my 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 by a man who didn’t want him on his property,” the star tweeted.
“This innocent child is now fighting for his life. This could be your child. This should NOT happen. Please do something today! Join me and please contact Prosecutor Zachary Thompson and demand an immediate arrest and bring the appropriate charges.”
Singer Justin Timberlake called attention to the shooting Monday as well.
“#RalphYarl accidentally rang the door of the wrong house while trying to pick up his siblings. For this, a man shot him in the head. Then shot him a 2nd time as he was on the ground. The man is free and the 16-year-old is fighting for his life in the hospital. This can’t be it,” Timberlake tweeted.
Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., called for charges on Twitter.
“#RalphYarl. My goodness…let’s be for justice, which is a continuum. That means the man who did this should be charged AND we need to work for the legislative and heart change to prevent these tragedies,” she said.
Singer Jennifer Hudson and actress Kerry Washington also shared their thoughts on the shooting: