The suspect in the shooting of Kansas City teenager Ralph Yarl is in custody after handing himself into the police a day after prosecutors filed charges against him.
Andrew Lester, 84, is accused of shooting the 16-year-old in the head and hand after he mistakenly rang the doorbell at the wrong home as he tried to collect his younger twin brothers.
“Andrew Lester, charged in the shooting of Ralph Yarl, has surrendered at our Detention Center and is in custody,” the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “He is in the booking process right now.”
Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson confirmed in a press conference on Monday afternoon that “there was a racial component to the case” as he announced Mr. Lester had been charged with two felonies: assault in the first degree, which carries a punishment of 10 to 30 years or life imprisonment, and armed criminal action, which carries a punishment of 3 to 15 years.
Prosecutors have already set a $200,000 bond for Mr. Lester.
Following the shooting, Mr. Lester was initially taken into custody and placed on a 24-hour hold.
However, under Missouri state law, a person can only be held for 24 hours on suspicion of a felony before officials must either charge or release them.
Attorneys for Ralph and jail officials said that the suspect was actually released after less than two hours.
The 16-year-old high school junior, was shot in the head and hand as he tried to collect his siblings from a friend’s house on 115th Terrace in Kansas City, Missouri, on the evening of 13 April, according to the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD).
Police said the teenager accidentally went to a home on 115th Street by mistake.
According to court documents, a witness told police that they saw a vehicle pull into Mr Lester’s driveway at around 9.30pm.
Mr. Lester told investigators that he had just lain down when the doorbell rang, he picked up a .32 pistol and opened the interior door of his house.
He told police that he saw a Black male pulling on the exterior door and thought he was trying to break into the property.
He claimed he was “scared to death” at the boy’s size and feared he was unable to defend himself given his elderly age, the documents state.
Mr. Lester said that he fired twice and that no words were exchanged with the victim.
During an informal police interview at Children’s Mercy Hospital, the teenager said that he did not pull the door and was waiting outside.
He told investigators that a man opened the door and immediately shot him, causing him to fall to the ground where he was shot for a second time.
Ralph told police the man said, “Don’t come around here.”
Following the shooting, Ralph managed to stumble away to some other homes in the neighbourhood to get help and was rushed to the hosptial.
On Monday, he was released from hospital to recover at home from his injuries.