Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson stated early Monday evening that a White 84-year-old man who allegedly shot and wounded Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager, after the 16-year-old went to the incorrect home to pick up his brothers will face two felony charges.
According to CNN reports, Andrew Lester will be charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal activity. Authorities have filed an arrest warrant for him, and he is not currently in jail, according to Thompson.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to this case,” Thompson said at a news conference without elaborating.
When asked if Lester could face hate crime charges, the prosecutor stated that in Missouri, a hate crime is a lower category of felony and that adding such charges may result in double jeopardy. Similarly, a probable cause document issued Monday evening sheds little light on why officials believe race played a part in this case.
According to Thompson, there is no evidence that Lester or Ralph spoke to one another before to the Thursday evening shooting. The prosecution noted that there is no proof that the teen entered the residence, and early evidence reveals Lester fired a.32 caliber pistol through a glass door on the teen.
Thompson stated that there is no footage of the encounter.
Family attorney Ben Crump said in a statement, “While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery.”
Two detention officers earlier told CNN that the suspect was brought into custody just before midnight on April 13 but was released less than two hours later, at 1:24 a.m. on April 14.
Lester, according to Thompson, was only jailed for a few hours after being arrested because police recognized immediately away that further investigation was needed. Thompson first stated that Lester was 85 years old, but a probable cause document acquired by CNN showed that he is 84 years old.
Lester could not be reached for comment by CNN. His prior booking record did not include a lawyer.
“He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice (through an exterior storm door) within a few seconds of opening the (main) door,” a police detective writes in the court document.