The Missouri man who shot a Black teenager who rang the wrong doorbell while trying to pick up his younger twin brothers was charged Monday with two felony counts, according to officials.
Police have charged Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old white Kansas City man, with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action, Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said Monday during a press conference.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to the case,” Thompson told a news conference, but he didn’t elaborate further.
Lester allegedly shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl twice with a .32 revolver. The teenager had not entered the home when he was shot through a glass door, Thompson said.
Yarl was shot in the head, cracking his skull and causing a serious, traumatic brain injury, attorney Lee Merrit told NBC News. Yarl was still on the ground when the homeowner opened fire again, striking him in the upper right arm, Merritt said.
In his account to the police, Lester said that the two did not exchange words, and he opened fire seconds after opening the door. However, Yarl told police during an interview at the hospital where he was being treated that the man told him, “Don’t come around here,” according to local media, citing court documents.
Lester faces a maximum punishment of life in prison for the assault charge and three to 15 years for the alleged gun crime, according to the prosecutor. He added that hate crimes, which were not filed, carry lesser penalties in Missouri.
An arrest warrant for Lester had been issued with a bond of $200,000, but as of 5 PM CDT on Monday, he was not in custody. According to Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves, the homeowner was initially detained, placed on a 24-hour investigative hold, and then released pending an interview with Yarl and acquiring forensic evidence.
Lester’s release sparked two days of protests and widespread outrage on social media.
“No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted in response to the shooting.
President Joe Biden also spoke with Yarl by phone, Merritt said on Monday.
Yarl, a high school junior described as an “excellent student and talented musician,” was released from the hospital and is recovering at home on Monday, his family said.