Ralph Yarl Biography
Ralph Yarl is a young black teen who was shot and wounded after ringing the doorbell to the wrong house in Kansas City, Missouri.
According to his family, on April 13, 2023, Ralph, a high school junior, was on his way to pick up his twin brothers from a friend’s house after school. He had never been to that neighborhood before and got confused by the similar-looking houses.
Yarl ended up ringing the doorbell of a house that belonged to Andrew D. Lester, an 84-year-old white man. Lester, who was armed with a handgun, opened the door and saw Yarl standing on his porch. Without warning or provocation, he fired three shots at Yarl, hitting him twice in the head and once in the arm.
Yarl managed to run away and collapsed on a nearby lawn. Lester then went back inside his house and barricaded himself for several hours until he surrendered to the police.
Yarl was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery. He survived the shooting and was released from the hospital on Sunday, April 17. He is now recovering at home with his family, who said he is traumatized by the ordeal.
Ralph Yarl Age
Yarl is 16 years old as of 2023.
Ralph Yarl Parents
Yarl’s parents emigrated to the United States from Liberia. Yarl is described by friends and family as an academically gifted student with an interest in music. He plans to study chemical engineering at Texas A&M University.
Ralph Yarl School
Yarl is a student at Staley High School. He is a high school junior.
Ralph Yarl GoFundMe
Yarl’s aunt Faith Spoonmore, posted a GoFundMe page which has received over $3.5 million. Here’s the link.
Ralph Yarl’s Shooter Arrested
Yarl’s shooter was recognized as Andrew Lester. Andrew was taken into custody in the early hours of April 14, but no charges were initially filed against him. He was released after a short time in custody and listed as “out of custody” and “general release” on the same day.
On April 17, the Clay County, Missouri prosecutor’s office stated that they had not received a criminal referral from the Kansas City Police Department regarding the shooting. Later that day, it was announced that Lester would be charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, which is the state’s equivalent of attempted murder in Missouri.
The district attorney stated that there was a “racial component” to the case. However, Assistant prosecuting attorney Alexander Higginbotham clarified that there was not a racial element to the legal charges filed. Legal experts speculated that a hate crime charge would have carried a lower maximum sentence than the charges filed.
Lester surrendered himself to authorities on April 18 and was released on bail later that day. He told the police that he believed the victim, Yarl, was trying to break in and was “scared to death” of his size.
If convicted, Lester faces 10 years to life in prison.
The shooting of Ralph Yarl sparked widespread outrage and condemnation from civil rights activists, politicians, celebrities, and ordinary citizens. Many compared it to other cases of racial profiling and gun violence against black people in America, such as; Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
Protesters marched in Kansas City and other cities across the country, demanding justice for Yarl and calling for an end to racism and gun violence. They held signs that read “Black Lives Matter”, “Stop Killing Us”, “Justice for Ralph”, and “Ban Assault Weapons”.
Racial Justice and Gun Reform Debate
The shooting of Ralph Yarl has reignited the debate over racial justice and gun reform in America. Many people have argued that the incident was motivated by racism and that Lester targeted Yarl because he was black. They have also pointed out that Lester was able to legally own several guns despite his history of mental illness and domestic violence.
Many people have called for stricter background checks, red flag laws, assault weapons bans, and other measures to prevent people like Lester from obtaining firearms. They have also demanded accountability and transparency from the police and the justice system in handling cases involving racial bias and excessive force.
Others have defended Lester’s right to self-defense and argued that he acted out of fear and confusion when he saw an unfamiliar person on his property. They have also questioned whether race played a role in the shooting and whether Lester knew or cared about Yarl’s skin color.
Others have also opposed any new restrictions on gun ownership and argued that law-abiding citizens should be able to protect themselves from intruders and criminals.
Some have claimed that gun control laws would only disarm law-abiding citizens while leaving criminals armed. They have also accused the protesters of exploiting Yarl’s tragedy for political gain and of inciting violence and vandalism.