Common mistakes, uncommon reactions in 4 separate shootings

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Ben Crump Law

This undated photo provided by Ben Crump Law shows Ralph Yarl, the teenager shot by a homeowner in Kansas City, Mo. (Ben Crump Law via AP)

In the span of six days, seven people across the U.S. have been shot — one fatally — for making one of the most ordinary and unavoidable mistakes in everyday life: showing up at the wrong place.

A North Carolina man shot a 6-year-old girl and her parents Tuesday night after children went to retrieve a basketball that had rolled into his yard, according to neighbors and the girl’s family.

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Earlier that day in Texas, a man shot two cheerleaders outside a supermarket after one of them mistakenly got into his car thinking it was her own, she said.

A group looking for a friend’s house in upstate New York arrived in the wrong driveway only for one of them to be fatally shot Saturday night, authorities said.

In Missouri last Thursday, a Kansas City teen was shot twice after going to the wrong home to pick up his younger brothers, raising questions about the state’s “stand your ground” law and heightening racial tensions.

This type of gun violence is not rare, said Jonathan Metzl, who directs Vanderbilt University’s Department of Medicine, Health and Society. The shootings have drawn attention because they are so extreme and in such quick succession.

But they show how “stand your ground” laws have fueled a belief that people can use guns defensively “anytime they perceive a threat,” he said.

Below is a glance at each shooting and the criminal investigations in Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Texas.


Honors student Ralph Yarl, 16, mixed up the address when he went to pick up his twin brothers on Thursday night. Instead of going to 115th Terrace, he showed up at the home of Andrew Lester, 84.

Lester, who is white, told police he had just gotten in bed when he heard the doorbell. Before answering, he grabbed his revolver. Lester said he then saw Yarl, who is Black, pulling on the storm door handle, something Yarl disputes, according to the probable cause statement.

Lester told police he thought the teen was attempting to break in and he was “scared to death,” the statement said. Without saying a word, Lester fired twice.

Yarl said the first shot struck him in the head, knocking him to the ground. As he lay there, the second bullet pierced his 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.

Some civil rights leaders have called for a hate crime charge, but Zachary Thompson, Clay County prosecuting attorney, said first-degree assault is a higher-level crime with a longer sentence — up to life in prison.

The wounded teen is recovering at home, and his mother, Cleo Nagbe, said the trauma is evident. She told “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King that her son mostly “just sits there and stares and the buckets of tears just rolls down his eyes.”

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

St. Louis defense attorney Nina McDonnell said prosecutors have a strong case but the “stand your ground” defense is a “huge hurdle” to overcome.

But Ari Freilich, an attorney and state policy director with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said nothing in the law “allows someone to shoot first and ask questions later when someone innocently rings a doorbell.”


Kaylin Gillis, 20, was traveling through the rural town of Hebron with three people Saturday night when the group turned onto a property that was not the friend’s house they were looking for, authorities said. They were met with gunfire in the driveway.

The group was trying to turn the car around when the homeowner, Kevin Monahan, 65, came out onto his porch and fired two shots, according to Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy.

One round hit Gillis, killing her.

They drove to the neighboring town of Salem, near the Vermont state line, and called 911, said Murphy, who noted the area has limited cell phone service.

Monahan was booked into the Warren County jail on a charge of second-degree murder. It wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Murphy said at a news conference Monday that there was ”no reason for Mr. Monahan to feel threatened.”

New York doesn’t have a “stand your ground” law.


A man shot two cheerleaders in a supermarket parking lot after one of them mistakenly got into his car thinking it was her own, she said.

The early Tuesday shooting in Elgin, east of Austin, was in an area that serves as a carpool pickup spot for members of the Woodlands Elite Cheer Company, team owner Lynne Shearer said.

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, KTRK-TV reported. She said she panicked and got back into her friend’s car, but the man got out of his vehicle and approached. She said she tried to apologize through her friend’s car window, but the man threw up his hands, pulled out a gun and opened fire.

Roth was grazed by a bullet and treated at the scene, police said. Her teammate Payton Washington, 18, was shot in the leg and back. Washington was flown to a hospital in critical condition.

Police arrested Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25. He is charged with engaging in deadly conduct, a third-degree felony. Online court records do not list an attorney for him.


A North Carolina man shot a 6-year-old and her parents Tuesday night, authorities said.

Gaston County Police Chief Stephen Zill would not say Wednesday what sparked the attack near Gastonia, a city of roughly 80,000 west of Charlotte. He said the shooter was 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary, 24, but declined to discuss the ongoing investigation further.

However, neighbor Jonathan Robertson said that before the attack, some children went to retrieve a basketball that had rolled into Singletary’s yard. He said Singletary went inside his home, came back out with a gun and began shooting as parents frantically tried to get their kids to safety.

A 6-year-old girl was grazed by a bullet in the left cheek, she and her family said. Her father, who had run to her aid, was shot in the back and was hospitalized with serious wounds. The girl’s mother was grazed in the elbow.

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