Hundreds protested after Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old black teenager, was reportedly shot in the head by a white homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri after he mistakenly rang the wrong doorbell when attempting to pick up his younger twin brothers.
(Video Credit: FOX4 News Kansas City)
The tragic shooting took place on Thursday night and is being called a hate crime by the teen’s family. They claim that Yarl pulled into the driveway at the wrong home at 10 pm that night. He rang the doorbell and the homeowner immediately fired at him, according to the Daily Mail.
“The man in the home opened the door, looked my nephew in the eye, and shot him in the head,” Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, declared on Instagram. “My nephew fell to the ground, and the man shot him again.”
After falling to the ground and being shot twice, somehow Yarl reportedly got up and ran to a next-door neighbor for help. No one answered and he pounded on three separate doors before someone finally opened up and helped him. Even then the person allegedly told him to lie on the ground with his hands up.
When first responders and the police got there, Yarl was rushed to the hospital. He survived the shooting and is reportedly in stable condition with a life-threatening injury. His family says that he has “a long road ahead of him mentally and emotionally.”
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The homeowner who allegedly shot Yarl has not been identified. He was taken into custody soon after the incident occurred. He was later “released pending further investigation.”
Police reportedly found the gun used in the shooting. They are waiting on bringing charges against the homeowner until the teen makes his own statement on what happened.
The release of the shooter was met with anger from the family. Yarl’s family will be represented by civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt.
Merritt announced in a tweet on Sunday morning, “Ralph is fighting for his life. This man must be arrested. We are on our way.”
His name is #RalphYarl— a 16 y/o who went to the wrong address to pick up his siblings.
He was shot in the head by a white man who didn’t want him on his property. He shot him a 2nd time for emphasis.
Ralph is fighting for his life. This man must be arrested. We are on our way.
— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) April 16, 2023
“There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect after admitting to shooting an unarmed, non-threatening, and defenseless teenager that rang his doorbell,” the attorneys said in a statement. “We demand swift action from Clay County prosecutors and law enforcement to identify, arrest and prosecute to the full extent of the law the man responsible for this horrendous and unjustifiable shooting.”
Crump has represented families in a number of high-profile cases including those of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Texas-based Merritt has previously represented the family of Cameron Lamb, who was fatally shot by Kansas City police detective Eric DeValkenaere in 2019.
We've been retained by Ralph Yarl & his family following the unjustifiable shooting of the 16-yo by an unidentified white male assailant. @MerrittForTexas & our legal team demand Clay County prosecutors & law enforcement swiftly identify, arrest, & prosecute the man responsible! pic.twitter.com/FmX2S7ZEZh
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 17, 2023
Kansas City Police Department Chief Stacey Graves justified the decision to release the homeowner on Sunday afternoon.
“The vast majority of cases to include violent crime involve the suspect being released pending further investigation,” Chief Graves noted. “In this case, the prosecutor requires more information from investigators that would take more than 24 hours to compile throughout the weekend.”
“We want the community to know that we are committed to justice in this case and every case and work every day to seek that justice for all victims of all crimes,” she said claiming she was “listening” and understood the community’s “concern.”
(Video Credit: ABC 7 Chicago)
Graves discussed how detectives are compiling forensic evidence and then stated that they are waiting to take a formal statement from the teen before deciding whether to bring charges against the homeowner.
The chief said that the Kansas City Police Department will forward the case to the Clay County prosecutor’s office so they can determine what charges, if any, are brought against the man.
None of that set well with the family or the teen’s community. Nearly a thousand protesters turned up outside the alleged gunman’s home on Sunday, demanding immediate justice over the shooting according to Fox4.
“We are here because an injustice has happened.”
Hundreds of protestors walked to the house where 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot.
Yarl meant to go to a house on NE 115th Terrace to pick up a sibling, but went to 115th Street instead. The resident shot him in the head. @kmbc pic.twitter.com/WhRKgPokPu
— Peyton Headlee KMBC (@PeytonKMBC) April 16, 2023
A massive crowd has amassed in front of the white man's home who attempted to murder 16 year old Black boy Ralph Yarl in Kansas City Missouri pic.twitter.com/f100JlEihV
— The Kansas City Defender (@KCDefender) April 16, 2023
“Ralph will feel a lot of love because this is a lot of people,” Spoonmore said at the rally according to NPR. “This is exactly what that man (the shooter) did not want to happen today. But you know what? Ralph is alive. He is healing. It is not the story that that individual intended for us to tell. We are telling a story that is different from the stories that you normally hear — he is healing. We have a lot to be thankful for that. There is a lot of hate. This right here is a lot of love and that is what God intentioned when he saved his life from over there.”
The teen is said to be a scholar who has ambitions of studying chemical engineering at Texas A&M University. He is also a “musical genius.”
He 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 base clarinet players in Missouri,” according to the Daily Mail.
“Ralph can often be found with a musical instrument,” his aunt Spoonmore recounted. “He loves them all.”
“He is our miracle. We have heard these types of stories many times, and unfortunately, most black boys are not alive to get another chance,” she charged. “This was not an ‘error.’ This is a hate crime,” the aunt wrote on Instagram. “You don’t shoot a child in the head because he rang your doorbell.”
“Our message for the prosecutor: we want charges, that’s what we want. If he goes free, the next black kid that rings that doorbell could get shot again. We don’t want that,” the father, Paul Yarl, said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the teen by his family.
Ralph Yarl was picking up his younger brothers when he mistakenly rang the doorbell at the wrong house. A man shot Ralph twice and now he’s in critical condition. His family needs support during this tragedy. Donate to Ralph’s GoFundMe and let’s pray for a full recovery!
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 17, 2023
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