The Chicago Journal

Ralph Yarl back home from hospital, Andrew Lester to be charged

Ralph Yarl Just days before, a tragedy struck Kansas City when Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old White homeowner, reportedly shot Ralph Yarl.

Ralph, a 16-year-old Black youth, went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings, according to Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson.

Lester is expected to face charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal activity.

Investigators have issued a warrant for his arrest, according to Thompson, because he has yet to be arrested.

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

In Missouri, a hate crime is a lesser felony punishable by double jeopardy, according to the prosecution.

Police released a probable cause paper on Monday evening, but it does not explain why they feel race is a factor in the case.

Contact, custody, and cause

There is no evidence that Andrew Lester and Ralph Yarl communicated previous to the Thursday shooting, according to Thompson.

Furthermore, the prosecution maintained that no evidence was uncovered in the home.

According to preliminary evidence, Lester fired a.32 caliber handgun through a glass door at the child.

Thompson stated that no video of the discussion exists.

Meanwhile, the Yarl family’s attorney, Ben Crump, issued the following statement:

“While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery.”

According to Thompson, Andrew Lester was only imprisoned for a few hours because detectives decided a more thorough investigation was necessary.

Lester was initially assumed to be 85 years old, but new evidence shows he is 84.

According to the probable cause statement, Lester informed investigators that he was afraid of Ralph Yarl’s stature and incapacity to defend himself at the age of 84.

He stated he was in bed when the doorbell rang and reached for a firearm before answering.

The court document reads:

“He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice (through an exterior storm door) within a few seconds of opening the (main) door.”

Following the incident, Andrew Lester became concerned about Ralph, according to the statement.

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Recovery and outrage

On April 13, cops responded to reports of a gunshot.

Ralph Yarl had been shot outside a house by the homeowner when they arrived.

He proceeded to the wrong location, according to the police and the Yarl family, mistaking 115th Terrace for 115th Street.

Ralph informed a visiting investigator at the hospital that he rang the doorbell and waited, according to the probable cause statement.

“(He) stated the male inside took a long time but finally opened the door holding a firearm,” the detective wrote.

“He stated he was immediately shot in the head and fell to the ground.”

According to the probable cause statement, Ralph was shot twice, once in the left forehead and once in the right arm.

They didn’t hear the gunfire because they were sleeping, according to a neighbor.

They had no idea what had transpired till they awoke.

“We came outside, (the victim) was laying in the street surrounded by a few of our neighbors.”

Ralph Yarl, according to Crump, had been released from the hospital but was still suffering from the event.

Ralph and his family, according to the attorney, are thankful he is still alive after having been shot in the head and hope for a complete recovery.

“He’s not out of the woods yet, but the great thing is, (medical officials) said he was stable enough to go to his home,” said Crump.

Furthermore, the lawyer inquired about why the gunman had not been apprehended that night.

“Nobody can tell us if the roles were reversed, and you had a Black man shoot a White, 16-year-old teenager for merely ringing his doorbell that he would not be arrested,” argued Crump.

“I mean, this citizen went home and slept in his bed at night after shooting that young Black kid in the head.”

Community and family members marched in front of Lester’s house over the weekend, asking that charges be made.

Protesters held signs reading “Justice for Ralph” and “Black lives matter.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted on Monday afternoon that he had visited Ralph Yarl’s mother, writing:

“I shared with her my personal commitment to ensuring we find justice for her son, her family, and all hurting now in our City.”


Ralph Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist gather funds for medical expenditures.

By Monday evening, it had collected almost $2.3 million in contributions.

Ralph Yarl, according to the pitch, was excited to graduate from high school and planned to travel to West Africa before beginning college.

Ralph was a marching band section leader who was frequently seen with a musical instrument, according to Spoonmore.

In February, the North Kansas City School Bulletin announced that he received honorable mention for the Missouri All-State Band on bass clarinet.

Ralph Yarl, a 2022 Missouri Scholars Academy graduate, is a member of both his school’s Technology Student Association and the Science Olympiad Team.

“Last Summer, Ralph attended Missouri Scholar’s Academy, where he got a full college life experience,” Spoonmore said.

“His goal is to attend Texas A&M to major in chemical engineering.”

“When asked how he plans to get into this university, he said ‘Well, if they have a scholarship for music or academics, I know I can get it.'”

“Life looks a lot different now. Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally,” the GoFundMe post reads.

“The trauma that he has to endure and survive is unimaginable.”

According to North Kansas City Schools Superintendent Dan Clemens, Ralph Yarl is an exceptional student and musician.

“We are devastated to learn one of our students was involved in a horrific incident last week,” he wrote.

“Our thoughts are with the Yarl family, and I know I speak for all of us when we wish him a full and quick recovery.”

“Ralph is an excellent student and talented musician. He maintains a stellar GPA while taking mostly college level courses.”

“While he loves science and hopes to pursue that career path, his passion is music. Thankfully, we know he is now recovering alongside family.”

Opinions expressed by The Chicago Journal contributors are their own.