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Kansas City man charged in shooting of 16-year-old who went to wrong address

April 17 (UPI) -- A Kansas City man faces felony charges in allegedly shooting a Black teenager, Ralph Yarl, who came to the door of his home by mistake last week.

Late Monday, the Clay County prosecutor announced charges against 84-year-old Andrew Lester, including first-degree assault and armed criminal action, KCTV News 5 reports. Lester is accused of shooting Yarl with a .32 revolver on Thursday when Yarl mistakenly went to the wrong home to pick up his siblings.

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Lester faces up to 15 years in prison on one charge and as much as life in prison for another. A warrant for his arrest has been issued and his bond is set at $200,000.

Kansas City officials promised a full investigation into the incident, which sparked outrage and protest in front of the shooter's home over the weekend after Lester initially was released by police without being charged.

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Yarl was listed in stable condition at a local hospital after being shot in the head and arm after dusk on April 13, according to civil-rights attorneys Lee Merritt and Ben Crump, who have taken up his case and who spoke Sunday.

Initially, Lester, a white man, was released under Missouri law because police said they lacked a formal statement from the victim, forensic evidence, and additional information for a case file, Police Chief Stacey Graves said in a press conference.

Graves added that she was "listening" to the community about the release of the shooter and understood their concerns.

That release sparked protests in the city calling for his arrest on Sunday.

"There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect," Merritt and Crump said.

The incident also caught the attention of Vice President Kamala Harris, who said "No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell.

Yarl's aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said at the protest Sunday that her nephew "is alive and 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," she said.

An initial investigation found the teen mixed up addresses where a parent told him to pick up his siblings and was shot after allegedly ringing the man's doorbell.

Spoonmore said that Yarl went to three different homes seeking help after being shot but was turned away.

Graves also said that initial information did not indicate that the shooting was racially motivated.

"That's still an active investigation, but as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case. I do recognize and understand the community's concern and the community's response to this particular incident," she said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by Spoonmore to raise funds for Yarl's medical bills and therapy. She writes that additional funds will be used for his college expenses. The campaign has raised more than $1.9 million toward its $2 million goal.

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