Andrew Lester, 84, has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action after shooting Ralph Yarl, 16, in the head and arm

Ralph Yarl is being treated in hospital for a cracked skull and a critical, traumatic brain injury 

A white man who shot a black teenager in the head after he knocked on the door of the wrong house has surrendered to police custody after being charged with assault. 

Andrew Lester, 84, shot Ralph Yarl twice after the 16-year-old mistakenly knocked on his front door to collect his younger brothers in Kansas City, Missouri, shortly before 10pm on April 13.

Mr Lester has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Clay County Sheriff confirmed on Tuesday night that Mr Lester had surrendered at their detention centre: “He is in custody.” 

The shooting has fuelled protests across Kansas City and stirred memories of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery – two young black men who were gunned down by assailants who later claimed self-defence.

It came as a lawyer for the teenager expressed disbelief that Mr Lester wasn’t kept in police custody after the shooting, and questioned if police would have acted more rapidly “if the roles were reversed”.

“I mean, this citizen went home and slept in his bed at night after shooting that young black kid in the head,” attorney Ben Crump said.

Andrew Lester stated he ‘believed someone was attempting to break into the house and shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door’ 

“[Ralph] merely rang the doorbell. That was it,” Mr Crump told CNN. “And the owner of the home shoots through the door, hitting him in the head and then shoots him a second time.”

On the night of the shooting, Mr Lester was taken into custody and released less than two hours later pending further investigation.

Police spoke with Ralph while he was being treated at a hospital, where he told them his mother asked him to pick up his 11-year-old brothers at 1100 NE 115th Street, according to charging documents, which notes the actual address they were staying at was 1100 NE 115th Terrace.

When he arrived at the house, Ralph said he rang the doorbell and waited a while before a man eventually opened the door and immediately shot him in the head, causing him to fall, the document says.

While the teenager was lying still on the ground, the man then fired again, shooting him in the arm, Ralph told police.

He said he got up and ran to keep from being shot, and he heard the man say: “Don’t come around here.” He then went to multiple nearby homes asking for help and telling people to call police.

The Missouri house where Ralph Yarl was shot

In his account to police, Mr Lester said he “saw a black male approximately 6 feet tall pulling on the exterior storm door handle.”

“He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door.”

Mr Crump said the teenager was being treated in hospital for a cracked skull and a critical, traumatic brain injury. The lawyer said it was a miracle he survived.

“There was a racial component to this case,” said Zachary Thompson, the Clay County prosecuting ttorney, without elaborating.

Mr Lester’s lawyer may seek to invoke the “Stand Your Ground” laws which allow homeowners in Missouri to respond to threats or force without fear of criminal prosecution in any place where a person has the right to be.

If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of life in prison on the assault charge and three to 15 years for the gun crime.

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