KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Four months after he was shot in the head after ringing the doorbell at the wrong house to pick up his brothers, Ralph Yarl has begun his senior year in high school.
Next week, the man accused of shooting him will be in court.
Yarl’s first day of school was Tuesday. "He was ready," his aunt, Faith Spoonmore, told the Kansas City Star. "Ralph was ready to just go back to just being a teenager."
Andrew Lester, 84, pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the April 13 shooting. His preliminary hearing is Aug. 31.
Lester, who is white, told authorities that he shot Yarl through the door without warning because he was "scared to death" he was about to be robbed by the Black person standing there. Yarl was struck in the head and the arm. The case shocked the country and renewed national debates about gun policies and race in America.
Kansas City, MISSOURI. - APRIL 17: Sixteen-year-old Kansas City high school student Ralph Yarl was shot on the front porch of this home when went to the house by mistake in an attempt to pick up his twin siblings. (Photo by Christopher Smith/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Yarl continues to heal from the traumatic brain injury he suffered, but was still able to complete an engineering internship this summer.
Support for Yarl and his family poured in throughout the past few months. A GoFundMe set up on the family’s behalf raised nearly $3.5 million.
The high school musician was also gifted a new bass clarinet — a professional model purchased with donations to a GoFundMe drive set up by a group of U.S. and Canadian musicians.
For the fall, Yarl’s family is planning college trips. They expect to visit the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M University and Purdue University. Yarl hopes to study engineering.
KANSAS CITY, MO- APRIL 18: Protesters attend a rally for Black teen Ralph Yarl in front of U.S. District Court on April 18, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. The 16-year-old Yarl was shot last week by an 84-year-old white homeowner after going to the wrong house to pick up his brother, according to published reports. (Photo by Chase Castor/Getty Images)
He also has an upcoming trip to the White House after President Joe Biden extended an invitation shortly after the shooting. A date has not yet been set.
Yarl and his family will have the opportunity to face his alleged assailant at Lester’s court hearing next week.
"It’s scary," Spoonmore said.
"In our mind, and in a lot of people’s minds, it’s a simple case and what happened was wrong and it should not have happened," she said, "and the person that did it should be punished for their actions."