In the aftermath of the shooting of Ralph Yarl, the Black teen who rang the wrong doorbell and was shot in the head by Andrew Lester, family members of Lester have come forward.
One of his grandsons, Klint Ludwig, told Don Lemon in a recent CNN interview that “he became estranged from his grandfather over his embracing of right-wing conspiracy theories.”
The 28-year-old has also stated that Lester “used to make disparaging comments about Black people, gay people, and immigrants,” and that his paranoia and radicalization increased significantly during the pandemic.
According to Ludwig, his grandfather had “become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and COVID conspiracies and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line.” He also noted that Lester was essentially submerged in “a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia.”
Even though the two were once close, Ludwig believes his grandfather was in the wrong, writing in a text message, “I am deeply saddened by what happened – it’s a tragedy and I believe the responsible party must be held accountable.”
“I blame KCPD for failing to act the day of,” said Ludwig about how the Kansas City Police Department initially released Lester from custody without charging him with a crime, “and am glad that the backlash to their inaction has led to charges. It is not easy to see someone I was close with make such a terrible mistake, but I will apply my convictions evenly and denounce what he’s done in the strongest terms.”
Ludwig is thankful that Yarl is on the road to recovery, and stated “I stand with Ralph, and really want his family to achieve justice for what happened to them. Their child or grandchild or nephew’s life was fundamentally changed forever, over a mistake and someone being scared and fearful.”
While Ludwig is glad that the wheels of justice are finally turning, he pointed out that “[t]he only reason why he is now receiving charges and an investigation is being held was because of community outreach to bring attention to this,” adding “The response has been great. It’s been amazing to see this solidarity and coming together as a community.”
Ludwig isn’t the only family member to come forward following the shooting—Mary Clayton, Lester’s ex-wife has also spoke with news outlets, revealing that she “was always scared of him,” and was not shocked after learning that her ex-husband shot the Black teen. Clayton also alleged that Lester “had a tendency to erupt in anger and would smash items in their home during his fits of fury,” and when she tried to involve the police she was told he could do as he pleased in his house.