Featured Photo Via Ben Crump Law

Last Thursday, the residents of Kansas City were shock-awakened from their dogmatic slumber by yet another racially-motivated shooting in the Missouri city: This time, it was a Black teenager shot by an 84-year-old retiree for simply knocking at his door by mistake. After the details of the case became public, celebrities ranging from Halle Berry and Kerry Washington to Jennifer Hudson have expressed horror at the tragic event, and called for justice just as the shooter was let go for two months on bail.

On Thursday April 13, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was supposed to drive to Northeast 115th Terrace to pick up his younger brothers from a party. Instead, it was the news of his assault and near-death in the hospital that reached Ralph’s two little siblings.

What happened, according to the early testimonies and court statements, is that Yarl mistakenly drove instead to the nearby Northeast 115 Street, knocking on the door of 84-year-old Andrew Lester. The latter, now known to be a QAnon conspiracy theorist and Fox News consumer, brought a handgun to hear the doorbell and perceiving threat, shot through the front glass door. After Yarl fell with a bullet to the head, Lester shot him again in the arm and went back without calling an ambulance. In his condition and bleeding heavily, the teenager was forced to find help for himself. Doctors later called his survival a ‘miracle’.

The case is not the first involving a senior citizen with gun shooting a youngster for no apparent reason other than unfounded fear. Just two days after Yarl, the 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was shot to death in upstate New York under very similar circumstances, by a 65-year-old man described by neighbors as habitually aggressive and confrontational.

Protests immediately broke out in Kansas City following the injuring of Ralph Yarl, but no charges were filed against the shooter until Monday. Lester surrendered himself to authorities on Tuesday and was arraigned the next day. Clay County Prosecutor Zack Thompson, who pressed charges of ‘First-degree assault’ and ‘armed criminal action’, said that the case had ‘a racial component’, but did not prosecute it as a hate crime for judicial expediency.

Unbelievably, Mr. Lester was let free after posting only 10% of his $200,000 bail and surrendering his passport and firearms. He told the court that he will be living at a new, unspecified address for the time being. The next hearing for the case will be held in June ahead of a criminal trial. If convicted, Lester could face up to a life in prison.

Most importantly, Lester did not show any particular remorse for the incident, and claimed he was ‘scared to death’ by the sheer appearance of Yarl on his doorstep. The Yarl family’s attorney Lee Merritt aptly pointed out: “The question is, at 5-8 and 140 pounds, what did Andrew Lester look out and see?” Merritt asked, “And the answer is he saw a Black person. And for him, that was enough justification.” Yarl did not even cross the threshold of the front door at any point, and did not exchange a word with Lester suddenly receiving a bullet to the head with no warning.

Fortunately, the young man was brought to the hospital in a life-threatening but stable condition. After undergoing surgery, Ralph Yarl left the hospital on Sunday and is expected to make a full recovery at home. An academically-gifted student with aspirations in the field of chemistry, the shooting has changed Yarl’s life forever. His mother, Cleo Nagbe described the silent torture her son is going through since the tragedy, with ‘buckets of tears’ the only indication of his suffering.

A GoFundMe started by her aunt to support Yarl’s treatment, therapy, and later education has already received over $3 million.

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Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the 2020, 2021 & 2023 Dateline award for Excellence in Local Journalism.

Anthony Tilghman

Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the...

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