The teen, who is recovering at home from two gunshot wounds, rang Lester’s doorbell late Thursday in error after showing up to the wrong address to pick up his younger siblings from a friend’s house. Lester, according to police, answered the door with a gun in hand and discharged almost immediately, shooting the teenager in the face through a glass exterior door.
Clay County attorney Zachary Thompson said the case has a “racial component” but would not elaborate publicly. Lester told police he was afraid that he would not be able to defend himself if the person at the door attempted to break into his home. Yarl never entered the home, family attorneys said.
The way in which a Black teenager’s seemingly innocuous mistake exploded into violence at the hands of a fearful, White, gun-wielding octogenarian has enraptured the nation. President Biden has spoken with Yarl, Hollywood celebrities have voiced support on social media, and Yarl’s classmates have expressed their support for the teenager in personal calls and broader cries for justice.
“No parent should have to worry that their kid will be shot after ringing the wrong doorbell,” Biden said on Twitter. “We’ve got to keep up the fight against gun violence. And Ralph, we’ll see you in the Oval once you feel better.”
Yarl’s class- and bandmates at Staley High School walked out of class Tuesday and marched in the boy’s name. More demonstrations are planned in Kansas City, where Yarl’s family and civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt are expected to gather Tuesday afternoon.
Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, told CBS News on Tuesday morning that her son was doing “considerably well” and his spirits were up despite enduring the pain of having a bullet removed from the front of his brain. Nagbe, a nurse, said that to her amazement, brain scans showed only a small number of bullet fragments left in her son’s head.
According to the criminal complaint, Lester had just gone to bed when he heard the doorbell and went to the door. He opened an interior door and saw a Black male he perceived to be “6 feet tall.” Lester told police he was afraid that someone was trying to break into house and opened fire from his Smith & Wesson .32-caliber pistol within seconds of opening the door.