What We Know About the Shooting of 16-Year-Old Ralph Yarl, Who Was Allegedly Gunned Down ‘Because He Rang the Doorbell of the Wrong House’ In Kansas City 

The shooting of a Kansas City, Missouri, teenager has sparked national outrage and raised questions about the safety of Black youth and their ability to live freely in America without automatically being categorized as a threat.

Ralph Yarl, 16, was reportedly shot twice by a white resident, Andrew D. Lester, after he rang the wrong doorbell on Thursday, April 13. He is currently recovering after suffering gunshot wounds to his arm and head, according to his attorneys. Lester was charged with felony assault and armed criminal action Monday. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

What we know about the shooting of Ralph Yarl
Ralph Yarl, 16, is in critical condition after being shot by a Kansas City, Missouri, homeowner on April 13, 2023. (Photo: GoFundMe)

“There was a racial component to this case,” prosecutor Zachary Thompson said. However, Lester was not yet arrested as of Monday evening.

Who is Ralph Yarl?

A GoFundMe started by a woman who identified herself as Ralph’s aunt, Dr. Faith Spoonmore describes the teen as a “fantastic kid.”

He is a member of the Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team, who also engulfed himself in music. Spoonmore said Ralph is the section leader of his school’s marching band and one of the top bass clarinet players in Missouri. He recently earned Missouri All-State Band recognition with an honorable mention, according to his aunt.

“Ralph can often be found with a musical instrument. He loves them all,” she wrote.

The 16-year-old is looking forward to graduating high school. He plans to visit West Africa before taking up chemical engineering at Texas A&M University.

“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,’” Spoonmore recalled, who is Ghanaian American.

What Happened the Evening Ralph Yarl Was Shot?

Yarl was shot by an unidentified white man after mistakenly arriving at the wrong address to pick up his younger twin brothers, his aunt says. He rang the doorbell at 1100 block of Northeast 115th Street instead of 1100 block of Northeast 115th Terrace, one block away, reports show.

Spoonmore said the homeowner “looked him in the face and shot him.” The first shot struck him in the head, and after he fell, the man shot Ralph again, according to his aunt.

“This man intended to kill an innocent child simply because he rang the doorbell of the wrong house,” she said in an Instagram video.

Ralph told police he ran to three other doors before he collapsed in a family’s driveway.

Kansas City Police say officers responded to a call about a shooting around 10 p.m. and arrived to find Ralph injured outside a residence.

“There was a decent amount of blood going from our door to the street. It was horrible,” Zach Dovel told The Washington Post. “He was bleeding out right in front of our mailbox.”

The shooter was initially taken into custody and held for 24 hours before being released.

Police Chief Stacey Graves said in a press conference that state law only allows authorities to hold a person suspected of a felony for 24 hours until charges are filed. Graves said investigators need to gather more forensic evidence and obtain a victim statement to move the case forward.

“As soon as the case is complete, it will be presented to the Clay County prosecutor for their review,” the chief said.

Reaction to Ralph Yarl’s Shooting

Dozens of protesters held a demonstration Sunday outside of the home of the man accused of firing at Ralph Thursday evening. Many in the Black community believed from the start that the shooting was racially motivated.

“When Black lives are under attack, what do we do?” asked a woman leading the crowd holding signs in front of the home.

“Stand up and fight back,” the crowd responds.

“Stand up!” The woman shouts.

“Fight back,” the crowd replies.

The shooting has also gotten national attention with Spoonmore’s online fundraiser for Ralph securing more than $1 million in donations by Monday morning.

A number of Black celebrities also posted photos of the boy expressing their outrage and urging followers to pressure local prosecutors to file charges.

“This innocent child is now fighting for his life. This could be your child. This should NOT happen,” wrote award-winning actress Halle Berry on her Twitter page with more than 830,000 followers.

“Sadden and sick to my stomach, when will this STOP,” wrote supermodel Naomi Campbell on her Instagram page in the caption with a photo of Ralph, shared with nearly 15 million followers.

The photo and message urging followers to call Thompson were also shared by D.L. Hughley, Viola Davis, Anthony Hamilton, Keke Palmer, Sherri Shepherd and Damon Idris, among others on Sunday and early Monday.

The attorneys acting on Ralph’s behalf have launched an independent investigation into the shooting and plan to meet with local, state and federal prosecutors “to ensure accountability.”

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