A grandson of the Kansas City homeowner charged in the shooting of Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager who accidentally went to his home, said his grandfather has "racist tendencies and beliefs.”
Yarl mistakenly went to the wrong address to pick up his siblings last week when he was shot twice by 84-year-old homeowner Andrew Lester. Lester, who is white, was charged on Monday (April 17) with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action in Yarl's shooting.
He surrendered and was taken into custody at a detention center on Tuesday (April 18) before being released on a $200,000 bond hours later.
Lester told police that he shot Yarl because he thought the teen was trying to break into his home and he was “scared to death."
According to his grandson, Klint Ludwig, Lester has a history of making “racist comments” and an interest in “QAnon-level conspiracy theories." Ludwig said he became estranged from his grandfather due to his right-wing conspiracy theories, per the New York Times.
“I believe he holds racist tendencies and beliefs,” Ludwig said of his grandfather, adding that he has bought into “conspiracies and weird random, racist things."
“A lot of it was like the QAnon-level conspiracies of election denying and he got really weird about some Fauci dogs... And I would push back on some of that stuff and he couldn’t handle being pushed back on and at a certain point we kind of lost touch and I think it was more his choice than mine,” he continued.
Ludwig said Lester may have been "scared" of Yarl due to a "24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia” from right-wing networks.
“He would sit and watch Fox News all day every day blaring in his living room," Ludwig told CNN. “I think that stuff really reinforces that negative view of minority groups and leads people – it doesn’t necessarily lead people to be racist, but it reinforces and galvanizes racist people in their beliefs.”
The grandson said his family is "disgusted" by Lester's actions.
“Myself and my family stand with Ralph Yarl and seeking justice. This is a horrible tragedy, it never should have happened,” Ludwig said.
On Wednesday (April 19), Lester pleaded not guilty to the charges in connection to Yarl's shooting.
Attorney Lee Merritt said Wednesday that the shooting is being investigated by the Justice Department as a hate crime.
Following the incident, Yarl is now at home and expected to make a full recovery.