Andrew Lester facing felony charges for the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl
State representatives commend Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zach Thompson for filing felony charges against Andrew Lester, the man who shot Ralph Yarl—a Black 16-year-old boy—in the head and arm when he accidentally knocked on the wrong door when trying to pick up his siblings.
Yarl has been in critical condition since the shooting on Thursday, April 13, but it took four days for any charges to be brought against Lester. This incited rage from Yarl’s family and friends in Kansas City and people across the country.
Lester is now facing two felony charges for assault in the first degree and armed criminal action.
“Far too many young Missourians must endure gun violence. Guns are the number one cause of death in the state for children. Ralph almost became a part of a horrifying statistic,” says State Representatives Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City; Jamie Johnson, D-Kansas City; Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City; and Eric Woods, D-Kansas City, in a joint statement. “And while we may want to think that race did not play a factor, it is naive to assume that a white teenager in the same situation would face the same violence. This is a time when we must be willing to have hard conversations about racism in this country and, sadly, in our communities. We stand with the Black community and everyone crying out for justice.”
Yarl’s aunt Faith Spoonmore started GoFundMe to pay for medical bills and therapy. Nearly $3 million has been raised.
“Life looks a lot different right now. Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally. The trauma that he has to endure and survive is unimaginable. He is our miracle. We have heard these types of stories many times, and unfortunately, most Black boys are not alive to get another chance,” Spoonmore writes on the fundraising page. “Ralph deserves to have the future that he has dreams about. He deserves to be the light that shows the world that LOVE wins and that humanity is still good.”
Protests for Yarl have begun to pop up across the U.S., including a march in Kansas City Sunday night that led hundreds to the house where he was shot. This protest started with a prayer for Yarl to heal.
This shooting has now garnered national attention. Political figures, activists, and celebrities are taking to social media to share Yarl’s story. His family asks that people continue to spread the word about the shooting and demand justice.