Ralph Yarl Case: Black Teen Shot in Head by Homeowner After Going to Wrong House to Pick Up Younger Brothers
Black teen Ralph Yarl was released from a hospital Monday after he was shot in the head by a homeowner when he rang the wrong doorbell trying to pick up his younger brothers. The gunman, who is reportedly white, has not been arrested.
Black teen Ralph Yarl was released from the hospital Monday as outrage erupted over his being shot in the head last week by a homeowner who opened fire when the 16-year-old rang the wrong doorbell trying to pick up his younger brothers.
The gunman, reported by several media outlets to be a white man in his 80s, was questioned but not arrested after the April 13 shooting, police said.
Hundreds of protesters took to Kansas City streets over the weekend, demanding the shooter be arrested. Prominent civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and S. Lee Merritt are representing Yarl and his family.
“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 joint statement released Sunday.
Kansas City Police Department Chief Stacey Graves also spoke Sunday.
“We recognize the frustration this can cause in the entire criminal justice process,” she said as demonstrators marched across the city. "I do recognize the racial components of this case and I do recognize and understand the community’s concern.”
The homeowner was taken into custody after the 10 p.m. shooting and questioned, Graves said. He was released after being interviewed without charges because of a Missouri law stipulating a suspect must be charged within 24 hours of a felony investigation or released, the chief said.
Officers were still investigating the shooting and needed to obtain a witness statement, Graves said Sunday.
Yarl's attorneys said the boy was critically injured in the shooting after being shot in the head and the arm.
“Ralph Yarl was picking up his younger brothers when he mistakenly rang the doorbell at the wrong house. A man shot Ralph twice and now he’s in critical condition. His family needs support during this tragedy,” Crump tweeted after the shooting.
On Monday afternoon, the teen's family said he had been released from a local hospital and was at home, being cared for by his mother, who is a nurse.
"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," his aunt, Faith Spoonmore, wrote on a GoFundMe page established to help pay Yarl's medical expenses.
As of Monday afternoon, the page had already amassed more than $1.6 million, including individual donations of $15,000 and $10,000.
Celebrities took to social media to express their outrage as well.
“My God !!! Heartbroken for this young man and his family. Praying for his complete recovery,” posted actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.
"His name is #RalphYarl," wrote actress Halle Berry.
Yarl's aunt said her nephew is a gifted musician and dedicated student who hoped to attend Texas A&M University.
On the fundraising site, she posted a description of what the family says happened.
"On Thursday, April 13, 2023, my nephew Ralph Pual Yarl was on his way to pick up his twin younger brothers from their friend's house a few blocks away from his house," she wrote.
"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 said.
"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," his aunt wrote. "Ralph was then able to get up and run to the neighbor's house, looking for help.
"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," she wrote.
Yarl played in the marching band, is an accomplished bass clarinet player and had attended the Missouri Scholars Academy last year, which is a three-week program at the University of Missouri for gifted students about to enter their junior year of high school.
Police Chief Graves said Sunday the case is under diligent investigation and that the department would present their case to Clay County prosecutors as soon as it is finished.
"The women and men of the Kansas City Police Department are working as expeditiously and as thoroughly as we can," she said, "to ensure the criminal justice process continues to advance as quickly as all involved and our community deserve."
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