'He's only 17': Aunt gives update on Ralph Yarl, Kansas City teen shot while at wrong home

ByLara Morita, KMBC
Friday, May 26, 2023
Ralph Yarl's aunt updates on his recovery
Yarl was shot after going to the wrong home to pick up his brothers.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the first time, the aunt of Kansas City teen and shooting victim Ralph Yarl is sharing her story, sitting down with KMBC.

Dr. Faith Spoonmore, better known as Auntie Faith, has been watching Ralph Yarl's recovery for the last several weeks.

Yarl was shot in the head and arm after attempting to pick up his 11-year-old twin brothers. He had gone to the wrong home. When the suspect, 84-year-old Andrew Lester, wasn't immediately charged, protests broke out in Kansas City.

RELATED: Ralph Yarl shooting suspect posts bond, released from custody: Sheriff's office

Spoonmore said the teenager is dealing with debilitating physical pain, on top of traumatizing emotional pain.

"Because when he had the wound on his head and he had the wound on his arm, we saw those wounds, you know, like now they're healing and we see the scars," Spoonmore said. "But the ones that are not healing are the ones that you see inside."

Yarl has always been very quiet, very courteous, but now, his aunt said he spends most of the time curled up in a ball in his bedroom.

A white man who shot a Black teen at his front door in Kansas City, Missouri, last week has been charged.

"Let's go eat breakfast. We get up, and we're going to go round and walk in the back yard," Spoonmore said. "And he would shuffle up and go downstairs and eat his breakfast but then he goes back, back in that ball. It's more about the wounds that you cannot see."

Spoonmore was the one who spoke with Yarl's twin brothers the night of the shooting, the brothers Yarl had attempted to pick up from the wrong house.

She did not want the twins to blame themselves for what happened.

"There were a lot of tears, but I made them say, 'do you understand me? Do you hear what I'm saying?' And both of them were like, 'yes, Auntie Faith,' and I was like that's good," Spoonmore said.

SEE ALSO: Ralph Yarl's case spotlights racial 'adultification' of Black children

Spoonmore has children of her own. What happened to Yarl has traumatized her youngest child, as well.

"One night I was putting him down and he said to me, 'if I got shot, would I live mommy?' And I'm like this is not something that a 5 year old is supposed to be talking about," Spoonmore said. "This not a conversation for a 5 year old."

As a family, they continue to rally around each other, and around Yarl, who carries the deepest wounds Spoonmore knows may never heal.

"He's only 17-years-old," Spoonmore said. "He has his entire life that he's going to have to fight, that he's going to have to struggle to deal with everything that happened as a teenager."