(AFP) – A Black US teenager who was shot twice after ringing the wrong doorbell has an invitation to the White House once he’s recovered, President Joe Biden promised Tuesday.
Ralph Yarl, 16, was shot twice, once in the head, last Thursday night in the midwestern state of Missouri, after going to the wrong house while trying to pick up his twin brothers.
Biden slammed the incident as another example of the United States’ failure to deal with widespread gun violence.
“No parent should have to worry that their kid will be shot after ringing the wrong doorbell. We’ve got to keep up the fight against gun violence,” Biden tweeted, saying he’d spoken with Yarl and his family the night before.
“And Ralph, we’ll see you in the Oval once you feel better,” the president added.
The suspected shooter, 84-year-old Andrew Lester, was charged on Monday with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action, local prosecutor Zachary Thompson said.
Lester turned himself in on Tuesday, a Clay County sheriff’s department spokesperson told AFP.
He was released later in the day on a $200,000 bail, a spokesperson confirmed later.
According to court documents, Lester said he thought the teen was trying to break into his house, and shot him through the glass storm door.
Outrage had risen over the case throughout the weekend, after it was revealed that Lester had initially been released without charges following 24 hours in custody.
“To pretend that race is not a part of this whole situation would be to have your head in the sand,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas told CNN Tuesday. “This boy was shot because he was existing while black.”
Yarl was released from the hospital and continuing to recover at home, his mother Cleo Nagbe told CBS on Tuesday.
“He went and rang the doorbell. And he was supposed to stay outside, and his brothers were supposed to run outside, get in the car and they come home,” Nagbe said.
“While he was standing there, his brothers didn’t run outside, but he got a couple of bullets in his body instead of a couple of twins coming up, out, and giving him a hug.”
– 400 million guns –
Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmoore, said on a GoFundMe campaign that her nephew was a gifted student who dreamed of studying chemical engineering.
The fundraiser had pulled in nearly $3 million for Yarl by Tuesday afternoon.
Deadly shootings are a regular occurrence in the United States, a country of around 330 million people that is awash with an estimated 400 million guns.
But Yarl’s case has sparked a particular outcry as the nation continues to grapple with a long history of lack of accountability for violence against African Americans.
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said at a Sunday night press conference that the information at the time “does not say that it’s racially motivated” and that the investigation was still active.
“But as a chief of police, I do recognize the racial components of this case. I do recognize and understand the community’s concern.”
Charges were also filed Monday in a similar case in New York state, where a 20-year-old woman was shot dead.
Police in New York state said Kaylin Gillis had been fatally shot by a homeowner on Saturday night when she showed up with three others at the wrong address when trying to find a friend’s house.