In 3 recent U.S. gun violence incidents, victims’ common mistakes bring grim results


In three high-profile shootings in the United States since last Thursday, a commonality appears to be present: victims making common mistakes. File Photo by Brett_Hondow/Pixabay

In three high-profile shootings in the United States since last Thursday, a commonality appears to be present: victims making common mistakes. File Photo by Brett_Hondow/Pixabay

April 19 (UPI) — A wrong turn, a wrong address and a wrong vehicle all resulted in three different incidents of gun violence in recent days.

This past week, Ralph Yarl, 16, was shot in the head and arm when he mistakenly approached the door of 84-year-old Andrew Lester on Thursday. Yarl escaped with his life and is recovering. Since that shooting and the intense attention it has garnered, two more grimly similar incidents have taken place. One shooting was fatal.

Ralph Yarl, Kansas City

On Thursday, Yarl was asked to pick up his younger siblings from N.E. 115th Terrace in Kansas City. Yarl made what is a common mistake, according to The New York Times, instead pulling into the driveway at 115 N.E. 115th St., one block away from where his siblings were.

Yarl reportedly pressed the doorbell at the home, waiting for his siblings to emerge. Instead Lester, an elderly white man, allegedly fired a .32-caliber revolver through his glass door at the Black teenager, striking him in the head. Lester shot Yarl again when he was on the ground and before he fled.

According to Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, Yarl went to three homes before finding help.

Yarl miraculously survived the shooting, which has sparked outrage across the country. Public anger later grew when it was reported that Lester was released from police custody after being questioned and was not charged.

Later on Monday, the Clay County prosecutor announced charges against Lester, including first-degree assault and armed criminal action. He faces life in prison for one charge and up to 15 years for the other.

On Tuesday, Lester surrendered to police custody. He was released on bond shortly after surrendering, The New York Times reports. His bond was set at $200,000.

Yarl’s recovery is continuing from home, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his aunt.

“How the bullet in his head did not cause more extensive damage is truly a miracle,” Lee Merritt, attorney for Yarl’s family, tweeted Tuesday.

“He can ambulate and communicate. A true miracle considering what he survived,” Spoonmore writes. “Each day is different. He has a long road ahead. However, we are very thankful that he is still here with us.”

The campaign has raised more than $3.2 million, exceeding its original $2 million goal.

Kaylin Gillis, Hebron, N.Y.

Like Yarl, Kaylin Gillis also found herself in the wrong place. On Saturday night, she was with friends, traveling in a caravan with two cars and a motorcycle.

It was between 9 and 10 p.m., on a dark overcast night, according to The New York Times. Gillis and her friends were looking for a friend’s house in rural New York, but they mistakenly entered the driveway of 65-year-old Kevin Monahan.

The caravan turned around in the long driveway. As they began to drive away, Monahan fired two shots from outside his front door. One of the shots hit Gillis, killing her. Because they were in a rural area, Gillis’ friends had to drive several miles before being able to call for help.

Gillis was 20 years old.

Monahan is being held in the Warren County Jail without bail.

Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy said in a press briefing Monahan was “not cooperative” when officers arrived at his home, so officers had “a bit of a situation” at the home.

“This is a very sad case of some young adults that were looking for a friend’s house and ended up at this man’s house who decided to come out with a firearm and discharge,” Murphy said. “It’s easy to get lost. They drove up this driveway for a very short time. There was no threat from anyone in the vehicles. There was no reason for Mr. Monahan to feel threatened.”

Murphy said that Monahan has been charged with second-degree murder.

Monahan’s attorney Kurt Mausert described the moments leading up to the shooting differently, describing the vehicles as “roaring” into Monahan’s driveway at a “high rate of speed.”

“So, certainly there was cause for an element of fear on Mr. Monahan’s part,” Mausert said, according to ABC News 10 in Albany, N.Y.

On Tuesday, Murphy told CNN that Monahan has not made a statement and has shown no remorse over killing Gillis.

Heather Roth and Payton Washington, Elgin, Texas

Heather Roth and Payton Washington, two high school teenagers in Elgin, Texas, were shot Tuesday after one of them reportedly tried to open the door of the wrong car.

The teens were in a vehicle in the parking lot of an H-E-B supermarket when Roth left the store to get into her own vehicle. She mistakenly pulled on the door of a vehicle that was not hers before she noticed a man sitting in the passenger’s seat. She returned to her friend’s vehicle and apologized to the man who approached the teens.

Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, allegedly brandished a firearm and opened fire on the girls. Roth was treated on the scene while Washington was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Washington suffered gunshot wounds to the leg and back.

Rodriguez is reportedly charged with deadly conduct.

The incident occurred at about 12:15 a.m., according to a report from the Elgin Police Department.

Washington is an 18-year-old senior and teammate of Roth on the Woodlands Elite Cheer Company. According to a GoFundMe page set up to help Washington’s family with medical expenses, she is in stable condition.

KHOU 11 reports that while officers were en route to the shooting, another call came in about a shooting victim about 5 minutes away from the parking lot. Police determined that the two incidents were related.

The Woodlands Elite Cheer Company later posted on Facebook that four of its cheerleaders were involved in the incident after leaving practice on Tuesday, naming Keyona and Genesis in addition to Washington and Roth. No last names were given or cited in police reports.

Roth reportedly was grazed in the leg by a gunshot.

Washington’s father, Kelan Washington, told NBC News Wednesday that she had her spleen removed and remains in intensive care at Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas in Austin.

“Payton’s accomplished everything she has with only one lung [from] when she was born. She’s as tough as they come,” he said.

Lynn Shearer, owner of Woodlands Elite Cheer Co, said the four girls carpool to practice from the Austin area, KXAN Austin reports. She said she witnessed the incident.

“The guy got out and they saw that he had a gun. And so they tried to speed off, and he shot his gun, like five times or so into the car,” Shearer said.

According to Shearer, Washington is an accomplished cheerleader who has won multiple titles. She is on course to join Baylor University’s acrobatics and tumbling team.

“Everybody knows her. She’s literally one of the very best that’s ever done this sport,” she said.

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