By Jasper Ward
(Reuters) -A Kansas City man was charged with two felonies on Monday in the shooting of a Black teenager who was wounded after walking up to the wrong house when going to pick up his younger twin brothers.
Andrew Lester, an 85-year-old white man, was charged with first degree assault and armed criminal action for shooting Ralph Yarl, 16, on the doorstep of his suburban home around 10 p.m. last Thursday, the prosecutor said.
“I can tell you there was a racial component to the case,” Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson told a news conference, without providing further details.
Lester could face life in prison should he be found guilty of the most serious felony charge, Thompson added.
Kansas City has seen two days of protests after the homeowner shot Yarl, who was released from the hospital and is recovering from gunshot wounds to the head and arm, according to his family.
Demonstrators gathered on Monday at the suspect’s single-story house on a tree-lined street, shouting “Black lives are under attack” and “Stand up, fight back,” online videos showed.
“No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted in response to the shooting.
The family’s lawyer Ben Crump on Monday had demanded the homeowner be arrested and charged with attempted murder of a teenager described by his school district as an “excellent student and talented musician.”
The homeowner was initially taken into custody, placed on a 24-hour investigative hold, then released pending an interview with Yarl and the collection of forensic evidence, Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said.
A warrant was later issued for Lester’s arrest with bond set at $200,000. He was not in custody as of 5 p.m. CDT (2200 GMT), the prosecutor said.
Missouri has a “stand-your-ground law” that allows homeowners to use physical force to defend themselves against suspected intruders.
The law says a person cannot use deadly force unless they reasonably believe it is necessary to protect themselves or another person against death or serious physical injury, or a possible felony.