Klint Ludwig was disgusted but not wholly astonished to find that his white granddad in Kansas City had shot a Black teenager who had answered his doorbell. “The warning signs were there. I wasn’t shocked when I heard the news,“ Ludwig told CNN on Thursday. “I believe he held — holds — racist tendencies and beliefs.”
On the other hand, Daniel, Ludwig’s older brother, reportedly denied that race had a role in their grandfather Andrew Lester’s April 13 shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl in front of his door. Hours after the shooting, Lester was held but then freed; he now faces two felony charges.
In court on Wednesday, Lester pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault and criminal use of a firearm. He posted bond of $200,000 and has a June 1 court date. Ralph, age 16, picked up his younger brothers at the wrong address, 1100 NE 115th Street, rather than 1100 NE 115th Terrace. Ralph had rung Lester’s doorbell and was shot in the head and arm as he approached the door.
CNN has obtained a probable cause document in which Lester is quoted as saying he did not speak to the teen before firing through the closed glass door. The homeowner was “scared to death” himself because he feared Ralph was trying to break into the house, the paper states.
Ralph’s aunt informed CNN that her nephew is under 170 pounds and less than 6 feet tall. The lawyer representing Lester, Steven Salmon, has not returned calls seeking comment. On Thursday, when CNN reporters showed up at his office in Kansas City, Missouri, the attorney’s secretary stated he was unavailable for interviews.
There have been multiple examples recently of young people being shot or murdered after accidentally approaching the incorrect home, driveway, or vehicle. Family members said that although Ralph, a bass clarinetist in high school, has been released from the hospital, he still has a long road to rehabilitation ahead of him.
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As the eldest Ludwig told The Kansas City Star, if Ralph hadn’t “gone for the door,” he doesn’t think their grandfather would have fired. According to the probable cause affidavit acquired by CNN, Lester has informed police that he opened fire after answering the doorbell and seeing Ralph attempting to open an exterior door.
The door was never opened by Ralph, he claimed. According to the report, he rang the doorbell and waited for a while before a man opened the door and shot him in the head. Ralph informed police that the assailant fired again while the teen was still on the ground, striking him in the arm. The Ludwig brothers disagree on how to treat their grandfather, but they can agree that the shooting was tragic.
“It’s just sad and I wish it didn’t happen,” Daniel Ludwig told The Star. “It seems like a bunch of mistakes in a row that resulted in a tragedy. I mean, a lot of mistakes all the way around, unfortunately.”
When CNN attempted to contact Daniel Ludwig, he declined to comment. His younger brother has expressed his solidarity with the hurt teen and his criticism of their grandfather’s behavior. “I was disgusted. I thought it was terrible. We — myself and my family — stand with Ralph Yarl in seeking justice,” Klint Ludwig said. “This is a horrible tragedy that never should have happened.”
He justified his decision to speak out against his grandfather by saying, “It’s the right thing to do.” The younger sibling complained that “people get away with killing unarmed, innocent Black people.” “People need to speak out,” he said, “not make any excuses for this kind of behavior and this violence.”
Klint Ludwig expressed his discomfort with his grandfather’s history of racist remarks, especially those he made towards Black people. He claimed that his grandfather was influenced by the right-wing conspiracy theories and “fear and paranoia” broadcast by the conservative media that was constantly “blaring in his living room.”
“I think that stuff really kind of reinforces this negative view of minority groups,” Klint Ludwig told CNN. Daniel Ludwig, in an interview with The New York Times, denied allegations that their grandfather shared radical right-wing views or believed in conspiracy theories.
“These people are not close to him like I am,” Daniel Ludwig said to the Times via text message. Additionally, he said that the grandpa was “literally too nice” and “spoiled” other family members.
After Klint disputed his grandfather’s conspiracy views, which he said included anything from election denial to conspiracies regarding infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, he and Lester grew apart during the Covid-19 outbreak, Klint said.
“He couldn’t handle being pushed back on, and at a certain point, we kind of lost touch,” Klint Ludwig said. “I think it was more of his choice than mine.”
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