Ralph Yarl Case: 84-Year-Old Andrew Lester, Homeowner Charged in Shooting of Teen, Finally in Custody

Ralph Yarl Shooting
Ralph Yarl, left, and Ralph Yarl.GoFundMe/Kansas City Police Department

One day after an arrest warrant was issued, a white 84-year-old Kansas City man surrendered on charges connected to the shooting of Black teen Ralph Yarl.

More than 20 hours after charges were filed against him, 84-year-old Andrew Lester surrendered Tuesday to the Clay County Jail in connection with the shooting of Black teen Ralph Yarl on the man's doorstep, authorities said.

Lester, who is white, is accused of felony assault after shooting Yarl in the head and arm after the teen rang the wrong doorbell when trying to pick up his younger brothers, authorities said.

Earlier Tuesday, the Kansas City Police Department told Inside Edition Digital the man had yet to be arrested.

"He is a wanted person with a warrant for his arrest, there are members of our department working to bring him in custody," Kansas City Police Sgt. Jacob Becchina told Inside Edition Digital Tuesday in response to an email seeking comment. 

"We would also welcome him to turn himself in at any of our detention facilities, and I know the Clay County Sheriff's (jail) would as well," Becchina said at noon.

About two hours later, the Clay County Sheriff's Office issued a statement saying Lester had surrendered himself and was being booked. Bail had earlier been set at $200,000.

Lester was charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson announced at a news conference on Monday evening. 

Yarl was released from the hospital Monday as outrage erupted over his shooting. The 16-year-old was shot in the forehead and the arm, police said. He is recuperating at home with his family.

The boy's mother, Cleo Nagbe, told CBS News Tuesday that her son replays the shooting "over and over" in his head. He can communicate, but "mostly he just sits there and stares, and the buckets of tears just rolls down his eyes," the mother said.

It will take some time for her son to recover, she said. 

“You can see that he is just replaying the situation over and over again,” his mother told CBS News. “And that just doesn’t stop my tears either, because when you see your kid just sits there and constantly ... tears are just rolling from both sides of his eyes, there’s nothing you can say to him," his mother said.

"He's home because he's surrounded by a team of medical professionals," Nagbe said. "I'm a nurse of almost 20 years, his aunt is a physical therapist, his uncle is a medical professional. That's why he's home."

Prominent civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and S. Lee Merritt are representing Yarl and his family.

Lester had been arrested and interviewed after the shooting last week, authorities said. He was released less than two hours later, police said, after being advised by Clay County prosecutors to release him pending further investigation, an arrest warrant affidavit said.

Before his release, Lester had been fingerprinted and booked on charges of aggravated assault, the affidavit said.

Yarl's family and attorneys had severely criticized the decision to release Lester.

“There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect after admitting to shooting an unarmed, nonthreatening and defenseless teenager that rang his doorbell,” the lawyers wrote in a joint statement released Sunday.

Demonstrators took to Kansas City streets over the weekend in protest of the shooting. The teen told police he had been sent by his mother to pick up his younger twin brothers at a friend's house, according to the arrest affidavit. Yarl said he had never been to that house before, and rang the doorbell.

He waited a long time before the door opened and he was shot twice, he said. Lester told authorities he was "scared to death" by someone ringing his doorbell at about 10 p.m. and thought someone was trying to break into his house, the arrest affidavit said.

Lester told police that the person outside his home tried to open the screen door, which was locked, the affidavit said. Yarl told officers he did not try to open the door, the affidavit said. The teen said he ran after being shot, and heard the homeowner yell, "Don't come around here," according to the affidavit.

The teen went to several homes seeking help and for someone to call 911, the affidavit said. He was found in the street in front of a neighboring house, the affidavit said, and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Responding officers found a home surveillance camera at Lester's home, but it wasn't working, authorities said.

Yarl's family and attorneys said none of the neighbors opened their doors to the wounded teen.

Prosecutor Thompson said Monday there was "a racial component" to the case, but did not elaborate.

Those who publicly responded to the teen's shooting included professional athletes, celebrities who took to social media, and President Joe Biden, who phoned the boy on Monday. "Last night, I had a chance to call Ralph Yarl and his family," Biden wrote on Instagram. "No parent should have to worry that their kid will be shot after ringing the wrong doorbell. We've got to keep up the fight against gun violence. And Ralph, we'll see you in the Oval once you feel better."

Fellow students at his high school, where he is a junior, assembled Tuesday and chanted, "We love you, Ralphy."

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