Update: 12:09 p.m. PT (April 18, 2023) – Andrew Lester has surrendered and is in custody at the Clay County Detention Center, according to a statement from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. He is currently in the process of being booked.
Original story below…
Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old white homeowner who allegedly shot 16 year old Ralph Yarl, will be facing two felony charges, announced Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson on Monday (April 17).
Lester will be charged with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action, according to CNN. When asked why he isn’t facing an attempted murder charger, Thompson added that Lester is being charged with the highest charge under Missouri law and a hate crime is actually a lower level felony.
Thompson also shared that there’s no indication Yarl entered Lester’s home and the latter opened fire through a glass door. The elderly man was taken into custody the night of the shooting, but was released shortly after. “I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Thompson said.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Yarl in this case, issued a statement ahead of Lester’s charges being revealed.
“Moments after the family got off the phone with President Biden, who offered his prayers for Ralph’s health and for justice, we learned that the prosecutor will be charging the man who is responsible for the deplorable shooting of this innocent boy,” the statement reads. “Gun violence against unarmed Black individuals must stop. Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery.”
Yarl was shot twice after going to the wrong home in an effort to pick up his younger siblings. His mother, Cleo Nagbe, told CBS Mornings that he sustained wounds to his upper right arm and left frontal lobe.
She revealed Yarl is able to communicate “when he feels like it,” but “mostly he just sits there and stares and the buckets of tears just rolls down his eyes.”
Nagbe added, “You can see that he is just replaying the situation over and over again. And that just doesn’t stop my tears either, because when you see your kid just sits there and constantly he just—tears are just rolling from both sides of his eyes, there’s nothing you can say to him.”
Local authorities claim Lester told them he was “scared to death” by Yarl’s size and his inability to defend himself.
“He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice (through an exterior storm door) within a few seconds of opening the (main) door,” a police detective wrote in the court document. After the shooting, Lester reportedly expressed concern for Yarl.