Ralph Yarl: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Ralph Yarl.

Instagram (Dr. Faith Spoonmore) Ralph Yarl.

Ralph Yarl is a 16-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, teen musician who was shot on April 13, 2023 – his family says in the head by a homeowner – after he mistakenly went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings.

A GoFundMe page to help Yarl and his family has raised more than $250,000 as of April 16, 2023.

The homeowner accused of shooting Yarl has now been criminally charged with assault in the first-degree and armed criminal action and faces life in prison if convicted; his name is Andrew Lester, 84, and there is a warrant for his arrest, the Clay County prosecutor, Zachary Thompson, announced on April 17, 2023. Read more about Lester here. Thompson said he believes there was a “racial component” to the shooting.

andrew lester

MugshotAndrew Lester

Yarl’s teacher and friends describe him as “a kind soul,” “quiet,” “friendly,” “well-mannered,” “always willing to help,” “super smart,” and a “musical genius,” the GoFundMe page says, adding that he has survived his wounds but has a long road to recovery.

“Ralph deserves to have the future that he has dreams about. He deserves to be the light that shows the world that LOVE wins and that humanity is still Good,” the page reads.

Protests have ignited outside the homeowner’s residence because he was released from custody pending further investigation, according to the Kansas City police chief, who spoke in a news conference before charges were filed. Yarl’s name was released by his aunt.

The actress Halle Berry was among those tweeting about Yarl. “His name is #RalphYarl and I’m sick and tired of this feeling…my heart completely broke when I learned this precious 16-year-old, who accidentally rang the door of the wrong address in an attempt to pick up his siblings, was shot in the head by a man who didn’t want him on his property,” Berry wrote, urging people to contact the prosecutor.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Ralph Yarl’s Aunt Wrote That He Was Shot After Ringing the Doorbell

Yarl’s aunt wrote on the GoFundMe page that the teen was shot in the head when he mistakenly went to the wrong house.

On Thursday, April 13, 2023, Yarl “was on his way to pick up his twin younger brothers from their friend’s house a few blocks away from his house,” wrote Dr. Faith Spoonmore, Yarl’s aunt.

“He didn’t have his phone. He mistakenly went to the wrong house, one block away from the house where his siblings were. He pulled into the driveway and rang the doorbell,” she wrote.

“The man in the home opened the door, looked my nephew in the eye, and shot him in the head. My nephew fell to the ground, and the man shot him again. Ralph was then able to get up and run to the neighbor’s house, looking for help,” according to Spoonmore’s post on the GoFundMe page. “Unfortunately, he had to run to 3 different homes before someone finally agreed to help him after he was told to lie on the ground with his hands up.”

According to the Kansas City Star, police have not identified the homeowner’s race. The Daily Beast reported that the homeowner is white, and Yarl is black.

On Facebook, Spoonmore wrote, “This man looked him in the face and shot him. @fox4kc new report clearly showed that the glasses door had been replaced as if nothing happened, and the individual is free to go about his day as if he did a great deed. While my nephew is a great kid, an intelligent kid, a black boy is left with so many broken pieces.”

She added: “If you want to know how you can help me or my family, please tag and share with as many people as you think can help this story grow. That man needs to be in jail. Black boys do not need to die for us to say enough is ENOUGH. Let America see that an attempt to kill 1 black kid is an attempt to kill all black kids.”

In a video with the post, Spoonmore accused the homeowner of telling Yarl, “Don’t come back here again.”

A Fox4 broadcast included in the video shows a reporter approaching people at the home. “I guess you’ll have to check with other authorities,” a man at the home told the Fox 4 journalist. It was not clear whether he was the homeowner. “He’s my buddy, man, and I love him to death,” a man pulling out of the driveway told the reporter. “We all take care of one another.”

“There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect after admitting to shooting an unarmed, non-threatening and defenseless teenager that rang his doorbell!” civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt tweeted, adding that the family has retained his services as well as those of well-known civil rights lawyer Ben Crump.

Yarl was originally in critical condition but is recovering, Merritt wrote.

2. The Police Chief Says the Homeowner Was Released Pending Further Investigation

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said in the news conference that the teen was shot in front of a residence “by a homeowner.”

According to Graves, the homeowner was taken into custody and placed on a 24-hour investigative hold.

The scene was processed, and police consulted with the prosecutor’s office. They released the homeowner because they need to obtain a formal statement from the victim, analyze forensic evidence and compile additional information, Graves said, adding that this is not uncommon.

She said the formal statement will be forthcoming as Yarl’s injuries allow and added that Missouri law required the homeowner to be charged or released after 24 hours. She said police will complete a review and send the case to county prosecutors.

“We recognize the frustration this can cause in the entire criminal justice process,” the chief said in the news conference of the delay, adding that the department is working as “expeditiously and thoroughly as we can.”

“We are committed to justice in this case and every case,” she added.

According to KHSB, Yarl arrived at the “1100 block of Northeast 115th Street instead of 1100 block of Northeast 115th Terrace” by mistake.

3. The GoFundMe Page Describes Ralph Yarl as a ‘Fantastic Kid,’ Who Is a Top Base Clarinet Player in Missouri

According to the GoFundMe page, Yarl “is a fantastic kid, and I am not just saying this because he is my nephew. He truly is.”

The page continues: “At school, he is a member of the Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team. Jazz and competition band. He is a section leader in the marching band; a scholar and one of the top base clarinet players in Missouri.”

It says: “He recently earned Missouri All-State Band recognition with an honorable mention. He plays multiple instruments in the metropolitan youth orchestra. He is a 2022 Missouri scholar academy alumni. Ralph can often be found with a musical instrument. He loves them all.”

4. Ralph Yarl’s Goal Is to Major in Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M

Yarl has big dreams, according to the GoFundMe page.

“Last summer, Ralph attended Missouri Scholar’s Academy, where he got a full college life experience. His goal is to attend Texas A&M to major in chemical Engineering,” it says.

“When asked how he plans to get into this university, he said, ‘Well, if they have a scholarship for music or academics, I know I can get it,'” the page reads.

”Ralph was looking forward to graduating high school and finally getting the opportunity to visit West Africa before starting college,” it says.

5. Ralph Yarl Has Survived ‘Unimaginable’ Trauma, the GoFundMe Page Says

According to the GoFundMe page, Yarl is recovering physically.

“Life looks a lot different right now. Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally,” it reads. “The trauma that he has to endure and survive is unimaginable. He is our miracle. We have heard these types of stories many times, and unfortunately, most black boys are not alive to get another chance.”

“However, he will need a lot of help to get there. Funds from this account will be used for his medical bills and therapy,” the page adds.

“Any additional funds will be use for college expenses at Texas A&M, a trip to West Africa, and other expenses.”

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