Trending Topics

‘It Doesn’t Surprise Me’: Relatives of Andrew Lester, the White Man Who Shot Ralph Yarl for Ringing His Doorbell, Say He Has a Violent Past, Spoke Disparagingly About Black People

New disturbing details are emerging about the man who shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl after he went to the wrong door on April 13 to pick up his younger siblings.

Andrew Lester’s ex-wife, grandson and neighbor have now spoken out about his propensity to be violent and hateful. The 84-year-old man claims he shot the teenager twice after he saw Ralph at his door because he was afraid.

Ralph Yarl Shot by Andrew Lester
Andrew Lester, right, admitted to shooting Ralph Yarl, left. (Photos: GoFundMe/Twitter)

Mary Clayton, who was married to Lester for 14 years, told The New York Times that he would often have fits of rage and break things in the home she shared with him and three children.

“I was always scared of him,” Clayton said. “It doesn’t surprise me what happened.”

Related: ‘Excuses… Are Not True’: Attorneys Say Kansas City Cops Initially Held Ralph Yarl’s Shooter for Only 2 Hours, Already Had Statement They Need for Criminal Case Days Before

Clayton, who said she has not spoken to Lester for decades, got word of the shooting from her daughter.

Klint Ludwig, Lester’s grandson, has also distanced himself from his grandfather. He told The New York Times the two parted ways over his devotion to right-wing conspiracy theories. Ludwig said Lester spent a reasonable amount of time watching conservative news programs, “fully buying into Fox News, OAN.”

Ludwig said Lester had been immersed in “a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia.”

“And then the NRA pushing the ‘stand your ground’ stuff and that you have to defend your home,” he said. “When I heard what happened, I was appalled and shocked that it transpired, but I didn’t disbelieve that it was true.”

The 28-year-old also revealed that Lester had been known to make derogatory comments about Black people, homosexuals and immigrants. He also noted that his grandfather kept numerous guns in his home.

Lester told police he lives alone and picked up his handgun when he heard his doorbell ring, according to a probable cause statement. He was “scared to death” when he saw the Black teenager at his door, and thought he was trying to break in and he wouldn’t be able to defend himself because of his age.

Lester shot Ralph twice “within a few seconds of opening” the interior door, according to the statement.

It also said he was “visibly upset and repeatedly expressed concern” for the teenager.

Lester was charged with first-degree assault, which could lead to life in prison and armed criminal action, for which he faces 15 years.

Daniel Ludwig said that the depiction of his grandfather as a right-wing conspiracist is inaccurate. He added that Lester was “nice” and “spoiled” other family members.

“These people are not close to him like I am,” Daniel Ludwig told The New York Times.

Two relatives also told the Kansas City Star that they do not believe that Lester is racist but think he was afraid of the Black teenager. His nephew Dean Smith said Lester, who was a retired aircraft mechanic, worked with many people of different races.

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell reported that Lester lived in a low-crime area in Kansas City, Missouri. 

However, Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Ralph and his family said the teenager never touched the man’s door.

“Mind you, touching the door in and of itself wouldn’t be enough to justify the use of deadly force,” he said. “Ralph rang the doorbell and waited quietly outside until the door was open.”

Back to top