April 20, 2023

A grandson of 84-year-old Andrew Lester, who shot Ralph Yarl spoke to CNN's Don Lemon and gave us a glimpse into his grandfather's racist views and paranoia. Fox News radicalized Lester. He also spoke with The Kansas City Star.

Klint Ludwig said he "was horrified" after learning that his grandfather shot the unarmed 16-year-old who knocked on the wrong door when trying to pick up his little brothers. "It was inexcusable. It was wrong."

"I stand with Ralph and really want his family to achieve justice for what happened to them," he continued, according to the The Kansas City Star. "Their child or grandchild or nephew's life was fundamentally changed forever, over a mistake and someone being scared and fearful."

Lester is a "huge Trump supporter," he said, with politicians "co-signing violence" and domestic terrorism, all of that "really ramped up his beliefs" and radicalized him.

He said his grandfather had been immersed in "a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia."

"And then the NRA pushing the 'stand your ground' stuff and that you have to defend your home," he said. "When I heard what happened, I was appalled and shocked that it transpired, but I didn't disbelieve that it was true. The second I heard it, I was like, 'Yeah, I could see him doing that.'"

Is his grandfather a racist?

"I believe that there have been some positions that he's held that have been bigoted or sort of disparaging," Ludwig said. "But it's stock Fox News, conservative American stuff. It's 'anybody who gets an abortion is a murderer.' And 'fatherless Black families are the reason why crime exists in this country.' It's stuff everybody's heard at the Thanksgiving table every year."

"I hesitate to say he got more extreme because all this stuff has been extreme," he said, "and it's been the same story for decades and decades, and generation to generation of people believing the same things. It's just nowadays; people are acting on it a little bit more."

Ludwig told Don Lemon that his grandfather believed in election-denying conspiracy theories and "very weird" things about Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"I would push back on some of this stuff and he couldn't handle being pushed back on," he said. "At a certain point, we kind of lost touch and I think that it was more his choice than mine."

Ralph Yardi was released on Sunday and is recovering at home after being shot twice in the head and chest by Lester.

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