Andrew Lester’s Grandson Says Ralph Yarl Should ‘Never’ Have Been Shot newsusface

The grandson of an elderly Kansas City homeowner accused of shooting a teenage boy who had mistakenly gone to the wrong house while trying to pick up his younger brothers conceded that the near-fatal encounter “never should have happened.”

“It’s just crazy. I wish it didn’t happen,” Daniel Ludwig told The Daily Beast.

Ludwig’s grandfather, retired aircraft mechanic Andrew Lester, shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in the head and arm after answering the door last Thursday with a loaded .32 caliber revolver in his hand, according to police. Lester, 84, told cops that he “believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door,” according to a probable cause affidavit attached to a criminal complaint charging him with two felonies that could put him away for life.

“Don’t come around here,” Ralph, who is Black, said Lester, who is white, told him as he got up and ran away to avoid being shot again.

Ralph, who later disputed Lester’s claim that he had pulled on the door handle, was found “in the street” nearby, according to the affidavit.

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who are representing the Yarl family, called the shooting “horrendous and unjustifiable.” A family friend whose wife works with Yarl’s mom, a nurse in Kansas City, told The Daily Beast he didn’t think a white woman would have been shot had she been in the same situation. Two neighbors reportedly ignored a suffering Yarl, who turned up on their doorsteps pleading for help, adding to the community’s outrage.

The streets in the area are extremely confusing to navigate, according to residents, and Yarl’s aunt said in a TikTok video that her nephew did not have his phone with him to help navigate. He pulled into Lester’s driveway, apparently thinking he was on 115th Terrace. Instead, he was on 115th Street, just a block over. One local woman told The Daily Beast that the roads are all named similarly, and that she gets her neighbors’ mail “all the time.”

Ludwig, who described himself as “very close” with Lester, said he has in fact often been in precisely the same situation.

“I’d go to visit my grandpa, and I would get lost on those streets,” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s easy to do. They all look the same and everything.” (Ludwig also said he believes his grandfather felt he was in danger, a claim not backed up by any publicly available evidence to date.)

Ralph Yarl holds a bass clarinet in this picture provided by attorney Lee Merritt.

Lee Merritt via Reuters

Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said at a Monday press conference that the case involves a “racial component,” without explaining further. A neighbor of Lester’s who asked not to be named told The Daily Beast that she believed race absolutely played into the shooting.

“I just want to make sure the world doesn’t think every neighbor here is okay with this shit happening,” she said.

As people across the country struggle to digest yet another senseless spasm of gun violence, Ludwig said he is “praying for everyone.”

To Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant who now teaches at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the entire tragedy could have, and should have, been avoided.

“I just don’t see any justification for it,” he told The Daily Beast. “I’m just starting to question, have people lost their minds?”

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