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Ordinary Mistakes Lead to Shootings in United States

This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot by a homeowner in Kansas City, Missori. (Ben Crump Law via AP)
This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot by a homeowner in Kansas City, Missori. (Ben Crump Law via AP)
Ordinary Mistakes Lead to Shootings in United States
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In a period of six days, four young people across the United States were shot — one of them to death — for making ordinary mistakes: arriving at the wrong place.

A man shot and wounded two cheerleaders outside a Texas supermarket early Tuesday after one of them said she mistakenly got into his car thinking it was her own.

Last Saturday, a group of young people looking for a friend’s house in upstate New York arrived at the wrong property. One of them was shot to death, officials said.

And in Missouri last Thursday, a boy was shot twice after going to the wrong home in Kansas City to pick up his younger brothers. The shooting has raised questions about a Missouri law known as “stand your ground” and racial tensions in the area.

The shooting in Missouri

In Kansas City, 16-year-old student Ralph Yarl mixed up street names when he went to get his two younger brothers. He arrived instead at the nearby home of 84-year-old Andrew Lester.

Lester, who is white, told police he had just gotten into bed when he heard the doorbell ring. He said he took his gun to the door. Lester told police he then saw Yarl, who is Black, pulling on the storm door.

Lester’s police statement says he thought the teen was attempting to break into the home and it made him frightened. Without saying a word, Lester fired his gun two times, the statement continues.

Yarl disputes Lester’s claim that Yarl was pulling on the door.

He said the first shot struck him in the head, knocking him to the ground. As he lay there, the second bullet hit him in the arm. Yarl told police he fled as the homeowner yelled, “Don’t come around here,” the statement said.

Lester was charged with first-degree assault Monday and turned himself in Tuesday.

The wounded teen is recovering at home.

Legal experts believe Lester’s lawyers will claim self-defense under Missouri’s “stand your ground” law. It permits the use of deadly force if a person fears for his or her life. Missouri is one of about 30 states with such laws.

The shooting in New York

Kaylin Gillis, a 20-year-old woman, was traveling through the rural town of Hebron, New York with three other people Saturday night. The group turned their three vehicles onto a property that was not the friend's house they were looking for, law officials said. They were met with gunfire.

The group was trying to turn their vehicles around when the homeowner, Kevin Monahan, came out of his house. He fired two shots, said Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy. One hit Gillis. She was killed.

Monahan, who is 65 years old, was charged with second-degree murder. Unlike Missouri, New York does not have a “stand your ground” law.

The shooting in Texas

A man in Texas shot and wounded two teenagers outside a large food store just after midnight Tuesday. One of the victims said the gunman acted after she mistakenly got into his car, thinking it was her own.

The shooting in Elgin happened in a store parking lot. The athletes use the parking lot to meet and share rides to cheerleading events, said team owner Lynne Shearer.

Heather Roth said she got out of her friend’s car and into a vehicle she thought was hers, but there was a stranger in the passenger seat, news media reported. She said she quickly got back into her friend’s car. The man got out of his vehicle and came toward their car, she said, and she tried to apologize to him through the window. But the man pulled out a gun and opened fire, Roth reported.

Roth was hit by a bullet and treated on site, police said. Her teammate, 18-year-old Payton Washington, was shot in the leg and back. Washington is in critical condition at a hospital.

Police arrested a suspect, 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. He has been charged with “deadly conduct,” a third-degree felony.

I’m Caty Weaver.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in this Story

knock –v. to set in motion by a forceful hit

assault –n. a violent physical or verbal attack

midnight n. The hour of 12 at night

conduct –n. behavior

felony –n. a serious crime punishable by a heavy sentence

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