Charges filed against homeowner accused of shooting Black teen at his front door

LIBERTY, Mo. — An 84-year-old white man who opened fire at a Black teen who came to his front door in Kansas City, Missouri, last week was charged with armed assault on Monday, prosecutors said.

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Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said during a news conference that Andrew D. Lester was charged with felony counts of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. Lester is not in custody, Thompson said.

If convicted of the first count, a Class A felony, Lester could be sentenced to between 10 to 30 years to life. For the second count, Lester faces between three to 15 years in prison, Thompson said.

Lester is accused of shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl on Thursday in the Northland section of the city, The Kansas City Star reported. Yarl was supposed to go to a home on Northeast 115th Terrace to pick up a sibling but instead went to 115th Street, KMBC-TV reported.

The family of the teen said the boy was shot after knocking on the door to pick up his younger twin brothers, the Star reported. Lester allegedly told police that he shot Yarl with a .32 Smith and Wesson 1888 gun, WDAF-TV reported.

Ralph Yarl was able to get up after allegedly being shot and sought help at three different homes before someone assisted him, family members told the newspaper.

“I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Thompson said.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Lester, Thompson said. Lester was originally taken into custody after the shooting, which occurred about 10 p.m. CDT. He was released at 1:24 a.m. CDT on Friday, CNN reported.

Paul Yarl, the father of the teen, confirmed to WDAF that his son was released from an area hospital and is recovering.

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who are representing Yarl and his family, said in a statement that Ralph Yarl “is alive and recovering” at home but that he has severe injuries.

Thompson said during the news conference that the teen was shot in the head and arm. He added that Lester allegedly fired his weapon through a glass door. Yarl did not enter the home, WDAF reported.

“We understand how frustrating this has been but I can assure (you) the criminal justice system is working and will continue to work,” Thompson told reporters. “We enforce the laws, we follow the laws, and it does not matter where you come from, or what you look like, or how much money you have.

“Everyone is held to the same standard.”

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