Ralph Yarl, 16, was shot in the head for ringing the wrong doorbell in Kansas City.
Yarl, a black teenager, thought he was picking up his younger twin brothers when he rang a doorbell in a Kansas City neighborhood. But he had the wrong address, 115th Terrace instead of 115th Street, and the door belonged to Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old white man with a gun. Lester brought a gun to the door, and as soon as he saw the teenager, he shot him in the face. The bullet stuck Yarl above the eye and entered his brain, knocking him to the ground. Standing above him, Lester fired again, hitting him in the arm.
Despite his injuries, Yarl was able to get to his feet and flee. His statement quotes a final shout from Lester, saying “Don’t come around here.”
Lester told police he saw Yarl pulling on the storm door handle, and that he thought the teenager was attempting to break into the home. He was “scared to death,” his statement attests. Police released him on his own recognizance at the time, and while he has since been charged with first degree assault and armed criminal action, his bail was set low at only $200,000 and he posted it immediately.
That Lester wasn’t immediately arrested, like Kevin Monahan was for shooting a white woman for turning around in his driveway, has sparked protests in support of Ralph Yarl around the country. It took Kansas City authorities four days to charge Lester, only doing so after nationwide outrage, and he was allowed to self-surrender the next day instead of being brought in by police.
Monahan has also been charged with murder, while Lester has only been charged with assault.
Missouri does not have a hate crime modifier for major crimes, like attempted murder. In the state, it only serves to apply additional sentencing to minor crimes. But the assault charge levied against him could result in a life sentence, and the gun crime charge up to an additional 15 years.
Ralph Yarl is recovering at home, after surgery to remove bullet fragments from his frontal lobe.