The homeowner who allegedly shot a black teen in the head after he mistakenly rang his doorbell in Kansas City was hit with two felony counts on Monday as prosecutors said he could spend the rest of his life in jail.
Andrew D. Lester, 85, was charged with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action for the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in a crime that had a “racial component,” according to the Clay County Prosecutor Office.
Lester was not immediately arrested on Monday evening. A bond of $200,000 was set for the suspect.
Lester shot Yarl twice — once in the head and once in arm — after the teen mistakenly arrived on his doorstep to pick up his younger brothers who were actually waiting for him at a home about a block away.
The charges carry 10 to 30 years behind bars, or life in prison, prosecutors said.
“The defendant is charged with [a Class] A felony,” Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said at a Monday press conference. “It’s the highest level offense in the state of Missouri.”
Thompson said there was “a racial component” to the case, but didn’t elaborate.
Lester, who is white, exchanged no words with the teen before allegedly shooting him through a glass door with a 32-caliber revolver Thursday night.
There were also no witnesses and no footage of the interaction, Thompson said.
Earlier on Monday, it was revealed that there were signs warning against solicitors and trespassers at the home where Yarl was shot.
A small sign right above the doorbell Yarl rang reads, “No Solicitors,” and another sign by the side fence states: “This property is protected by surveillance cameras.”
It remains unclear if Yarl read any of the signs when he arrived at the home around 10:30 p.m. The teen never crossed through the door, according to prosecutors.
The charges against the elderly homeowner came after Halle Berry and other celebrities demanded justice for the shot teen.
“I’m sick and tired of this feeling,” Berry revealed on Twitter.
“… my heart completely broke when I learned this precious 16-year-old, who accidentally rang the door of the wrong address in an attempt to pick up his siblings, was shot in the head by a man who didn’t want him on his property.”
The Academy Award-winning actress said that the “innocent child” should have never been shot.
“This could be your child. This should NOT happen. Please do something today!” she added.
Attorneys for Yarl had criticized authorities on Sunday for not immediately arresting the shooter.
“There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect,” attorneys Lee Merritt and Ben Crump said in a statement obtained by NBC News.
Thompson acknowledged that the “frustration” many have felt over the shooting, but insisted it was investigated the same as any other case.
“My message to the community is that in Clay County, we enforce the laws and we follow the laws and that does not matter where you come from or what you look like or how much money you have,” he said. “Everyone is held to the same standard and nothing about this process was different than any other investigation.”
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