Kansas City man Andrew Lester, 84, has been charged with two felonies after shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly rang his doorbell.
Last week, the white man shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in the head and arm when he arrived to pick up his siblings at the wrong address.
The Clay County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Lester with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
What happened to Ralph Yarl?
On 13 April, Yarl was picking up his younger brothers when he rang the doorbell of the wrong house. He was on Northeast 115th Street, instead of Northeast 115th Terrace.
According to authorities, Yarl and Lester exchanged no words before the shooting occurred. Yarl did not appear to enter Lester’s house. He was shot through a glass door.
The teenager survived the shooting and was taken to hospital. He has since been released and is recovering at home.
Authorities say that Lester suspected the teenager was breaking into his home and wanted to protect himself.
Authorities also said that Lester claims he was “scared to death” because of Yarl’s size and age.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson told the press.
Thompson announced that Lester would face two charges in a press conference on Monday (local time). He said that Lester “knowingly caused physical injury to [Yarl] by shooting him”.
The first charge is first-degree assault, a ‘class A’ felony which Thompson said “carries with it a range of punishments… up to life.”
The second charge, armed criminal action, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Protesters and community leaders across the U.S. have expressed outrage over the incident.
Rev. Dr Vernon Howard, a local religious and civil rights leader, described the shooting as a “heinous and hate-filled crime” and called for Lester’s “immediate arrest”.
Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted: “Let’s be clear: No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell.”