- Ralph Yarl, who is black, knocked on the door of Andrew Lester, a white man, who shot him twice with a revolver in Kansas City, Missouri
- Now the teenager has spoken out for the first time since the ordeal – revealing the sinister five words that the gunman said to him before hitting him twice
A Missouri teenager who was shot in the head and arm after mistakenly knocking on the wrong door has described what happened for the first time.
Ralph Yarl, now 17, was shot in April after he went to the wrong address while going to collect his twin younger brothers from their friend’s house in Kansas City, Missouri.
“He only said five words: ‘Don’t come here ever again,’ ” Yarl told Robin Roberts about his assailant Andrew Lester, 84, when she asked if “there were any words exchanged” before the man opened fire.
Recalling the moments before he was shot by the homeowner, Yarl told Good Morning America: ‘I go into the driveway, I walk up the steps, I rang the doorbell.
‘I didn’t even know their family at all…so I think this is their house.
‘I actually waited a long time. I hear the door open. I see this old man, and I’m assuming his must be their grandpa, and then he pulls out his gun.
‘I’m like woah, so I back up. He points it at me so I brace and I turn my head.
‘Before that I’m thinking, there’s no way he’s actually going to shoot, the doors even open, he’s going to shoot through his door and glass is going to get everywhere.
‘And it happened. I’m on the ground, I fall on the glass, the shattered glass. Before I know it I’m running away shouting help me!
‘I was bleeding from my head. I was thinking, how is this possible.’
‘He only said five words: “Don’t come here ever again.”‘
His mother Cleo Nagbe said ‘it was traumatizing’ when she first saw her son in the hospital bed after being shot twice.
Now 10 weeks later, the budding musician and school scholar has made a full physical recovery – but he said mentally there is still a strain following the ordeal.
The teen, who took his SATs when he was just in the eighth grade, now struggles with daily tasks which would normally be easy for him.
He said: ‘There’s a lot of things that are going on inside my head that aren’t normal. I’ve been having headaches, trouble with sleep, and sometimes my mind is just foggy. I can’t concentrate on things that would be easy to do.
‘I’m just a kid. I going to keep doing all the stuff that makes me happy and just living my life the best I can and not let this bother me.
‘Justice is the rule, the law, regardless of race, ethnicity, and age. He should be convicted for the crimes he made. I’m past having any personal hatred for him.
‘He should suffer repercussions because that’s what our society is made of, trust in each other and reassurance that we can coexist together in harmony.’
The shooting happened on April 13 when Yarl accidentally went to Northeast 115th Street instead of Northeast 115th Terrace – one block from one another – in the north of Kansas City.
The teenager approached the door but did not ‘cross the threshold’ into the house, prosecutors said.
Missouri is one of twenty US states which has stand-your-ground laws, which remove the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.
The law permits homeowners to protect themselves, or a third party (with exceptions) with deadly force should a person feel it is necessary.
According to Missouri Revised Statutes 563.031 residents must be faced with a threat before shooting trespassers on the property.
It states: ‘[Protective] force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person.’
‘Stand-your-ground’ laws roughly define how an individual can defend themselves when faced with an imminent threat anywhere else; imminent being a keyword here because even threatening words towards a defending person can lead to a justified homicide.
Lester was said to have opened the door and fired two .32-caliber rounds from a revolver that struck Yarl on the forehead and the arm. Prosecutors previously said there was no indication any words were exchanged.
Lester told a police officer after the shooting that he saw a black man ‘pulling on the exterior storm door handle,’ and that he believed the person was attempting to break in.
During an interview with a detective, Yarl said that he only rang the doorbell and did not pull on the door.
Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson confirmed there was a racial factor in the attack – after the teenage music scholar was shot twice, in the head and arm, after ringing the wrong doorbell when he went to pick up his younger brothers.
‘I can tell you there was a racial component to the case,’ said Thompson.
Ralph was known among his peers for his intellect and for being a ‘musical genius’.
The teen had received a letter from Yale Undergraduate Admissions Board identifying him as a ‘good candidate’ for the prestigious university.
Ralph is part of his high school’s Technology Student Association and Science Olympia Team, plays in the marching, jazz, and competition band, and is one of the top bass clarinet players in Missouri.
He had big dreams of attending college after being recognized as a Missouri scholar academy alumni in 2022.
Ralph’s attorneys specialize in civil rights and previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Cameron Lam
Author: Andrew Collins