(KANSAS CITY) — Ralph Yarl, the Kansas City, Missouri, teenager who was shot after mistakenly going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings, opened up about the harrowing experience for the first time in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts.
“I’m just a kid and not larger than life because this happened to me,” Yarl told Roberts in the interview set to air Tuesday. “I’m just gonna keep doing all the stuff that makes me happy. And just living my life the best I can, and not let this bother me.”
Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, told ABC News last month that after the shooting in April her nephew didn’t want to go back home because he was shot in the neighborhood where he also lived.
“Ralph is currently living with me,” she told ABC News in May. “He’s been with me since the event. He is not comfortable going back to that area,” she said. “He is not comfortable going back to his house, his home … which is so unfortunate because he had a lot of great memories in that home.”
Ralph Yarl raises money for traumatic brain injuries following wrong house shooting
But since then, Yarl and his family have relocated. He said that he is seeing a therapist and hoping to continue his recovery by focusing on his passions for chemical engineering and for music.
Yarl was shot on the evening of April 13 by Andrew Lester – a homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri, according to police, after the teenager accidentally went to the wrong address to pick up his twin brothers. Yarl was 16 at the time; he celebrated his 17th birthday last month.
Lester, 84, was charged with one count of felony assault in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action, also a felony, Clay County prosecuting attorney Zachary Thompson said during a press conference on April 17.
According to a probable cause statement obtained by ABC News, Lester told police that he “believed someone was attempting to break into the house” and grabbed a gun before going to the door because he was scared.
Lester, who is white, claimed that he saw a “Black male approximately 6 feet tall” pulling on the door handle and “shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door.” He said that the Black male ran away and he immediately called 911.
Police spoke with Yarl on April 14 while he was recovering at Children’s Mercy Hospital. According to the probable cause statement, he told police that he rang the doorbell and said that he didn’t pull on the door knob.
Lester pleaded not guilty and was released on April 18 on a $200,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31 after a judge agreed to partially seal the evidence in the case in response to a protective order filed by Lester’s attorney, Steven Salmon.
“In this case, the court entered an order prohibiting the dissemination of information from the discovery by both the prosecution and defense,” Steven Salmon, Lester’s attorney, told ABC News in a statement on Monday. “As a party to the criminal case, any statement from Mr. Lester would certainly violate that order. I can say Mr. Lester is looking forward to the upcoming preliminary hearing.”
Judge rules Andrew Lester case to be partially sealed in the shooting of teenager Ralph Yarl
Yarl’s family previously told ABC News that he has been experiencing migraines after suffering a traumatic brain injury that has restricted his ability to participate in activities he loves, like playing music.
Yarl attended a walk/run event in Kansas City, Missouri, on Memorial Day along with his family to help raise money for traumatic brain injuries.
He did not make any public comments during the event, but his mother, Cleo Nagbe, shared an update on her son’s recovery.
“When you get a traumatic brain injury, everybody expects you to look one way, feel one way or act one way, but it’s not that way,” she said. “And everybody’s asking me: ‘Have you gone back to work yet, has Ralph gone back to school yet?’ That’s not the case. A brain injury is a process, it’s not an event. It takes time.”
Watch Robin Roberts’ exclusive interview with Ralph Yarl on “Good Morning America,” Tuesday, June 27, starting at 7 a.m. on ABC.
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