US man, 85, charged with shooting Black teen who rang doorbell
April 18, 2023 03:28 PM
Prosecutors in the US state of Missouri announced felony charges on Monday against an 85-year-old white man after he allegedly shot and severely wounded a Black teenager who mistakenly rang his doorbell.
Ralph Paul Yarl, 16, was in critical condition after he was shot twice, once in the head, last Thursday night when he rang the doorbell at the wrong house while trying to pick up his twin brothers from a friend's home nearby.
Outrage rose over the case throughout the weekend, after it was revealed that the homeowner had been released without charges following 24 hours in custody.
However on Monday, Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson announced that the homeowner, identified as Andrew Lester, 85, had been charged with one count of felony assault in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action, also a felony. His bail was set at $200,000.
The boy's aunt, Faith Spoonmoore, said on a GoFundMe campaign that her nephew was a gifted student who dreamed of studying chemical engineering.
Deadly shootings are a regular occurrence in the United States, a country of around 330 million people that is awash with an estimated 400 million guns.
But Yarl's case has sparked a particular outcry as the nation continues to grapple with a long history of missing accountability for violence against African Americans.
The White House announced Monday evening that President Joe Biden had spoken by phone to Yarl "and shared his hope for a swift recovery."
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said at a Sunday night press conference that the information at the time "does not say that it's racially motivated, that's still an active investigation."
"But as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case. I do recognize and understand the community's concern."
Charges were also filed Monday in a similar case in New York state, though the victim of the shooting Saturday night did not survive.
Police in New York state said a 20-year-old woman, identified as Kaylin Gillis, had been fatally shot by a homeowner on Saturday night when she showed up with three others at the wrong address when trying to find a friend's house.
"While they were leaving the residence after they determined that they were at the wrong house, the subject came out on his porch for whatever reason and fired two shots, one of which struck the vehicle that Kaylin was in," said Jeffrey Murphy, the sheriff of Washington County, where the shooting took place.
The 65-year-old homeowner who allegedly fired the shots was arrested Monday and charged with premeditated murder, the sheriff said.
Meanwhile on Saturday in the state of Alabama, four people were killed and at least 28 others, mostly teenagers, were wounded in a shooting at a birthday party.