US senators denounce shooting of Ralph Yarl, Black teenager who knocked on wrong door

‘I hope that they’ll prosecute this thing and that there’ll be justice,’ the Missouri Republican tells The Independent

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 18 April 2023 23:22 BST
Ralph Yarl: Prosecutors charge Kansas City homeowner for shooting teen

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri denounced the shooting of a 16-year-old Black teenaged boy in Kansas City after a suspect in the case turned himself in and was released on Tuesday.

Andrew Lester, 84, is accused of shooting Ralph Yarl in the head and hand after the teenager mistakenly rang the doorbell at the wrong home as he tried to collect his younger twin brothers.

Mr Hawley, a former attorney general, said the shooting was “terrible.”

“And I'm glad if he thinks he's got that facts to charge the case,” he told The Independent. “And I hope that they'll prosecute this thing and that there'll be justice.”

Prosecutors set a $200,000 bond for Mr Lester and he was released less than 2 hours after authorities arrested him, but he was required to pay 10 per cent of the bond. Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said in a press conference on Monday that “there was a racial component to the case.” He announced that he would charge Mr Lester with two felonies: assault in the first degree and armed criminal action.

Mr Hawley said that the shooting of Mr Yarl is part of a larger trend of crime proliferating across the country.

“I think the only way to deal with this is you've got to charge people who commit violent crimes and who use guns and violent crimes,” he said. “You have to charge it.”

Senator Eric Schmitt, Missouri’s junior Republican Senator, offered a more measured response.

“I’ll let the prosecution play itself out,” he told The Independent. “That’s where it’s at and I’m praying for the family.”

But Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democrat, told The Independent while he was waiting for the facts, he found the situation tragic.

“I want to get all the facts out, what I know already is anguishing,” he told The Independent. “I'm happy that there was an arrest, but it should never have happened. This beautiful child should never be experiencing this kind of horror and trauma.”

Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, another Democrat and one of three Black Senators, also expressed condolences.

“Well it's heartbreaking,” he told The Independent. “And it's one more instance of the ways in which Black parents don't know what to tell their children.”

Mr Warnock mentioned how Black parents have “the talk” with their children about police and the fear they might be shot.

“And now we got to add to that, be careful that you don't ring the wrong door bell,” he said.

Graeme Massie contributed to this report

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