RV reacts to the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl

The Kansas City teen was shot after mistakenly knocking on the wrong door



This image of Yarl at band is the most frequently-shared among news media outlets

Janjabill Tahsin, Editor in Chief

Sixteen year old Ralph Yarl, a Black resident of Kansas City, mistakenly knocked on the front door of Andrew D. Lester’s home, an 84-year-old white man, to pick up his younger brothers when Lester opened fire against the student on April 13. 

The following Monday evening, April 17, Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson’s office issued a warrant for Lester’s arrest on felony charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. 

Thompson said at a press conference that “there was a racial component” to the shooting Thursday night when Lester shot Yarl twice, once in the left forehead and right arm, through a glass door. But nothing in the probable cause documents indicates that the shooting was racially motivated, Thompson clarified. 

The details from the probable cause of the Andrew Lester case state no words were exchanged when Lester shot twice within seconds of opening the door, but Yarl told authorities he heard Lester say, “Don’t come around here,” when he got up and ran after being shot.

Yarl went to multiple homes in the neighborhood, asking for assistance and telling people to call the police. A witness who had reported hearing “two to three gunshots” from Lester’s address had also heard Yarl screaming that he had been shot a short time after hearing an unknown vehicle pull into the driveway of Lester’s address. 

Lester told the police that he believed that someone was attempting to break into his house, so he picked up his gun before responding to the door in order to protect himself because of Yarl’s size and his age. 

“It was the last thing he wanted to do,” but he was ‘scared to death,'” said Lester as he later expressed concern for Yarl.

RV Black Student Union President Mya Collins, who is also an active member of the school’s wind and jazz ensemble, remarks that her initial reaction to the shooting of Ralph Yarl was “Oh, this happened again.”

Despite her initial reaction, for Collins, this story was more personal.

“It wasn’t shock, but it’s been a recurring experience that I’m desensitized to because it’s such a recurring thing in America, and it’s numbness,” Collins said. “The first image I saw was how he is a band kid, and that hit home, because I’m also a band kid.”

RV senior Kylee Kaldrovices said that she was “deeply disturbed that something like this happens, and it’s a regular thing.”

“It’s upsetting how he is not the first person this happened to, and he was only sixteen,” she said. “This isn’t the first time a young person has been killed over a mistake or misconception. It’s honestly devastating because no one should have to be that careful in life. Nobody should have to quadruple check their safety.”

Lester currently faces a maximum punishment of life in prison for the assault charge and three to 15 years for the alleged gun crime.

Yarl’s attorney, Lee Merritt, stated, “Ralph is doing extremely well given his condition less than a week ago,” when providing an update on his health on MSNBC on April 20. Right now, he is under the care of a therapist and believes he will be back in school soon.