A man in the US state of Missouri has been charged with shooting a teenager who rang the wrong doorbell while picking up his younger brothers.

Andrew Lester, 84, has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, prosecutors said.

Mr Lester, who is white, allegedly shot Ralph Yarl, 16, who is black, once in the head and once in the arm last Thursday night. The boy survived.

A prosecutor said there was a “racial component” to the shooting.

Mr Lester has not been charged with a hate crime, and charging documents do not describe the alleged racial bias.

At a press conference on Monday, Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said: “My message to the community is that, in Clay County, we enforce the laws and we follow the laws.

“That doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, or how much money you have.”

Police initially detained Mr Lester for questioning and let him go, sparking protests throughout the city on Sunday.

On Monday, protesters gathered outside the suspect’s home chanting “black lives are under attack” and “stand up, fight back”, online video shows. Mr Lester’s home has also reportedly been vandalized.

Personal injury lawyer Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Yarl family, said: “You can’t just shoot people without having justification when somebody comes knocking on your door – and knocking on your door is not justification.”

Ralph’s family said the teen had been trying to pick up his younger twin brothers from a friend’s house at around 22:00 local time on 13 April when he knocked on Mr Lester’s door.

Family members say the boy mistakenly went to 115th Street instead of 115th Terrace and rang the bell twice. After being shot, he went to three nearby homes before someone helped him, they said.

No words were exchanged before the homeowner opened fire with a .32 revolver, prosecutors said.

But another attorney for the family, Lee Merritt, told NBC News: “He heard rustling around going on in the house and then finally the door was open.

“And he was confronted by a man who told him, ‘Don’t come back around here,’ and then he immediately fired his weapon.”

According to local reports, Mr Lester told police that he believed someone was breaking into his home and fired two shots through his door. A witness also told the local news station that he heard Ralph “screaming that he had been shot”.

On Monday, prosecutors said Missouri citizens have the right to use force if they “reasonably” fear that they are in danger. They declined to elaborate further on the specifics of this case.


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