Protesters took to the streets after a homeowner shot and wounded a teenager who had gone to the wrong home to pick up his siblings in Kansas City, Missouri, police said Sunday.
Ralph Yarl, 16, was “shot twice and struck in the head and arm,” his family’s attorneys said in a statement.
Protesters marched as they chanted, “justice for Ralph” and “Black lives matter,” and carried signs reading, “Ringing a doorbell is not a crime” and “The shooter should do the time,” footage from CNN affiliate KMBC shows.
Officers responded to reports of a shooting on the evening of April 13 and arrived to find a teenager who had been shot by a homeowner outside a residence, according to Kansas City Police.
The teen was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition Sunday, police said.
“Despite the severity of his injuries and the seriousness of his condition, Ralph is alive and recovering,” civil rights attorneys S. Lee Merritt and Benjamin Crump, who have been retained by Yarl and his family, said in the statement.
Police learned the teenager’s parents had asked him to pick up his siblings at an address on 115th Terrace, but he accidentally went to a home on 115th Street, where he was shot.
“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,” Crump tweeted.
The homeowner – who has not been identified – was taken into custody and placed on a 24-hour hold, then released while police work to get a victim statement and gather more forensic evidence.
Under Missouri law, a person can be held for up to 24 hours for investigation of a felony, at which time they are required to be charged or released, Graves said at the news conference.
Attorneys for the wounded youth’s family issued a statement demanding “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.”
Asked whether the shooting may have been racially motivated, the police chief said, “the information that we have now, it does not say that that is racially motivated. That’s still an active investigation. But as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case.”
Protesters gather in Kansas City after Ralph Paul Yarl’s shooting.KMBC
Graves sought to assure the Kansas City community Sunday the police department is committed to the case.
“We recognize the frustration this can cause in the entire criminal justice process. The women and men of the Kansas City Police Department are working as expeditiously and as thoroughly as we can, to ensure the criminal justice process continues to advance as quickly as all involved and our community deserve,” Graves said.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said there will be a thorough investigation and review by the prosecutor’s office.
“As a parent, I certainly feel for the mother of the victim and others in the family. My heart goes out to them,” the mayor added.
Teen was a band section leader
A GoFundMe started by Faith Spoonmore, who identified herself as Ralph’s aunt, to help the family raise money for medical expenses had garnered more than $1 million in donations by Monday morning.
Ralph had been looking forward to graduating from high school and visiting West Africa before starting college, his aunt wrote in the fundraiser.
The teen is a section leader in a marching band and could often be found with a musical instrument in hand, Spoonmore wrote. Most recently, Ralph earned Missouri All-State Band honorable mention for playing the bass clarinet, according to a North Kansas City Schools’ newsletter in February. He also plays multiple instruments in the metropolitan youth orchestra, his aunt wrote.
He is a member of his school’s Technology Student Association and Science Olympiad Team and is a 2022 Missouri Scholars Academy alumni, she wrote.
“Last summer, Ralph attended Missouri Scholar’s Academy, where he got a full college life experience,” Spoonmore wrote. “His goal is to attend Texas A&M to major in chemical Engineering. When asked how he plans to get into this university, he said, ‘Well, if they have a scholarship for music or academics, I know I can get it.’ “
“Life looks a lot different right now. Even though he is doing well physically, he has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally. The trauma that he has to endure and survive is unimaginable,” the GoFundMe post reads.