Black Teen Shot After Ringing the Wrong Doorbell in Kansas City
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Black Teen Shot After Ringing the Wrong Doorbell in Kansas City

by Brooke LaMantia

A Black teenager, who family members later identified as Ralph Yarl, was shot in Kansas City, Missouri, after going to the wrong house to pick up his younger siblings.

On Thursday, April 13, 16-year-old Yarl was shot in the head when he accidentally went to the wrong address. As reported by the Kansas City Star, Kansas City Police were called to a residence nearby before 10 PM and Yarl was transported to a hospital to be treated for his injuries. According to a GoFundMe started by Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, “he is doing well physically” but “has a long road ahead mentally and emotionally.” Yarl is currently recovering at home.

The police did not identify the shooter but civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Yarl and his family, released a statement on Sunday that said the shooter was a white male, which CNN confirmed early Monday, adding that the suspect was his 80s. During a news conference on Sunday night, Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said that the homeowner who allegedly shot Yarl was taken into custody Thursday and placed on a 24-hour hold, though he was later released pending further investigation after consulting with the Clay County prosecutor’s office.

The news of Yarl’s shooting sparked a protest in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of people marched to the house where Yarl was found and demanded stronger action to be taken against the suspected shooter. In response to the protests and at the later conference, Graves said, “I want everyone to know that I am listening, and I understand the concern we are receiving from the community.”

Many celebrities and politicians have also taken an interest in the case, demanding action from police and questioning the race component of the case.

“His name is #RalphYarl and I’m sick and tired of this feeling…my heart completely broke when I learned this precious 16-year-old, who accidentally rang the door of the wrong address in an attempt to pick up his siblings, was shot in the head… by a man who didn’t want him on his property,” tweeted actress Halle Berry.

Georgia state Rep. Michelle Au, who is Chinese American, wrote: “I’ve sent my 17yo son to pick up his siblings from a friend’s house. Like Ralph Yarl, he excels in music. Like Ralph, he’s a science scholar. Like Ralph, he dreams big. My son probably wouldn’t be shot for ringing the wrong doorbell.”

In response, Graves said that the information the police have gathered does not point to the shooting being racially motivated and that it is still an active investigation, but that “as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case.”

Attorneys for the Yarl’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.”

Photo via Facebook