US

An arrest warrant has been issued for the man accused of shooting a Black teenager in the head in Kansas City.

Andrew Lester, 85, is accused of shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, who reportedly went to the wrong house by accident when trying to collect his younger brothers last week.

Police said on Monday that Lester had been initially arrested, and had his weapon seized, then was released pending further investigation.

“The vast majority of cases including violent crime involve the suspect being released, pending further investigation. In this case, the prosecutor requires more information from investigators that would take more than 24 hours to compile,” police chief Stacey Graves said.

“We recognise the frustration this can cause in the entire criminal justice process.”

Missouri law allows a person to be held for up to 24 hours for a felony investigation. At that point, the person must be released or arrested and formally charged.

Zachary Thompson, a lawyer for the victim, said there was a “racial component” to the shooting, but did not offer any more details on possible motives during a news conference, adding a warrant has been issued for Lester’s re-arrest and his current location was unknown.

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Mr Thompson also revealed Lester has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

He also said Lester and the 16-year-old did not exchange any words before the alleged attack, where the former used a .32 revolver to allegedly shoot Ralph in the head and in the arm through a glass door.

A GoFundMe page, thought to be set up by Ralph’s aunt Faith Spoonmore, said the teenager escaped the alleged attack, but had to knock at three different homes before someone helped him.

Police earlier said Ralph had a life-threatening injury but was in a stable condition.

Ralph Yarl Pic: Facebook
Image:
Ralph Yarl. Pic: Facebook

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‘I thought he was dead’

Speaking to NBC News, Sky’s US partner network, the man who found Ralph covered in blood said he “thought he was dead”.

“I heard somebody screaming, ‘Help, help, I’ve been shot!'” James Lynch said, adding the shouting was out of place for the normally quiet neighbourhood.

Mr Lynch added he heard the screams as he was getting ready for bed, before running over to Ralph by jumping over his own fence and checking his pulse as he arrived.

Ralph apparently struggled to respond before he spelled his name.

Another neighbour arrived with towels to help stem the blood flow, and she and Mr Lynch waited with Ralph until paramedics arrived.

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‘Stand up, fight back’

The shooting sparked a protest in Kansas City on Sunday, with hundreds gathering outside the home where Ralph was allegedly shot, with chants of “stand up, fight back!”.

Ms Spoonmore went live on Instagram from the protests, where she spoke to a woman who lived near the scene and saw Lester the morning after the alleged attack.

“This was a child that this man attempted to assassinate,” she said.

“He shot him twice. And we allowed him to not only go back home hours after the incident, but he was able to wake up the next morning and freaking claim like nothing ever happened.”

The GoFundMe for Ralph has raised more than $2 million since it was launched, with high profile donations from the likes of actress Julianne Hough, stand up comedian Ellyn Daniels, and screenwriter Mara Brock Akil.

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