Man accused of shooting boy who knocked on wrong door
A Missouri homesteader has been accused of shooting dead a teenager who rang the wrong doorbell to pick up his younger brothers.
Andrew Lester, 84, has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal activity, prosecutors said.
Mr Lester, who is white, is said to have shot Ralph Yarl, 16, who is black, once in the head and once in the arm last Thursday night. The boy survived.
A prosecutor said the shooting had a “racist component”.
Mr Lester has not been charged with hate crimes and the indictment documents do not describe the alleged racial bias.
At a news conference Monday, Clay County Attorney Zachary Thompson said: “My message to the community is that in Clay County we enforce the law and obey the law.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you look like or how much money you have.”
Police initially arrested Mr Lester for questioning and released him, sparking protests across the city on Sunday.
On Monday, protesters rallied outside the suspect’s home and chanted “Black lives are under attack” and “Stand up, fight back,” online videos show. Mr Lester’s home was also reportedly vandalized.
Personal injury attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the Yarl family, said: “You can’t just shoot people without a justification if someone knocks on your door – and knocking on your door isn’t a justification.”
Ralph’s family said the teenager was trying to pick up his younger twin brothers from a friend’s house around 10pm local time on April 13 when he knocked on Mr Lester’s door.
Family members say the boy mistakenly went to 115th Street instead of 115th Terrace and rang the bell twice. After being shot, he walked to three nearby houses before anyone helped him, they said.
No words were exchanged before the homeowner opened fire with a .32 revolver, prosecutors said.
But another family attorney, Lee Merritt, said NBC News: “He heard a rustling in the house and then the door finally opened.
“And he was confronted by a man who told him, ‘Don’t come back here,’ and then he immediately fired his gun.”
Accordingly local reports, Mr Lester told police he believed someone was breaking into his home and fired two shots through his door. A witness also told the local news station that he heard Ralph “screaming that he had been shot.”
On Monday, prosecutors said Missouri citizens have the right to use force if they “reasonably” fear they are in danger. They declined to go into the details of this case.
Ralph was discharged from hospital on Sunday and is recovering from his injuries at home, family members said.
The boy’s father, Paul Yarl, told the Kansas City Star the indictment was “such a relief.”
“I’m happy. This is what we were looking for. It’s here.”
According to family attorneys, President Joe Biden called the Yarls Monday and spoke with them for 20 minutes.
He told reporters that Mr. Biden said his prayers and invited them to the White House once the teenager recovered.
Celebrities including Viola Davis, Justin Timberlake, Halle Berry and Kerry Washington, and Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes all condemned the shooting.
A GoFundMe account set up to pay for Ralph’s medical recovery has raised over $2.1million (£1.7million) as of Monday.