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Attempted murder charge: Argument between St. Paul city worker, teens escalated to fight and shooting

The 16-year-old who was shot remains hospitalized with a life-threatening injury.

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St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry speaks at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul. Henry addressed questions about the shooting of a 16-year-old boy, allegedly by a St. Paul Parks and Recreation employee, on Wednesday afternoon outside the Oxford Community Center/Jimmy Lee Recreation Center. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is at center, and Andy Rodriguez, director of St. Paul Parks and Recreation, is at right.
John Autey / Pioneer Press
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ST. PAUL — An argument outside a St. Paul recreation center escalated to a fight and a city Parks and Rec employee shooting a 16-year-old in the head, according to an attempted murder charge filed Friday, Jan. 20.

Several witnesses reported that the teen and another 16-year-old were in an argument with Exavir Dwayne Binford Jr. in front of the main entry door at Oxford Community Center, which includes Jimmy Lee Recreation Center and Great River Water Park.

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Exavir Dwayne Binford
Contributed / Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office

The shooting of the 16-year-old happened in the parking lot of the building at Lexington Parkway and Marshall Avenue.

The teen underwent emergency neurosurgery and remains in the intensive care unit with a life-threatening injury, according to the criminal complaint.

Binford left the area, and police arrested him less than an hour later.

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The complaint gives the following information from prosecutors:

Witnesses reported “a big group of students” left Central Senior High School and went to the rec center across the street after school. There was a fight among girls at the rec center, Binford came out and told the students to leave. No one was allowed in the rec center because of the fight.

Students remained in the parking lot and talked. A girl got permission from an employee to let her male relative into the rec center, but “Binford was upset because another employee undermined his authority,” the complaint said.

Binford later told police he “had words” with the girl who let her relative into the building.

“Binford explained to the girl she had to understand the rec center’s rules,” the complaint said. “Binford got fed up, clocked out, and left the building. Binford heard the girl talking about him to her friends as he was leaving. Binford told the girl to shut the (expletive) up. The girl stepped up to Binford and told him not to talk to her like that.”

The 16-year-old, referred to in the complaint by his initials, JT, intervened. A girl who joined in the fight described it as “pretty physical,” saying JT and another 16-year-old, RC, grabbed and punched Binford. She said “it only lasted a couple of seconds. As soon as the physical fight ended, Binford backed up, pulled out his gun, and shot JT right in the head,” the complaint continued.

Police were called about the shooting around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.

After his arrest, Binford said he felt threatened by JT and RC even though they’re teens. He said JT thought he was reaching for a gun, but he was just looking for his bus pass. He said JT dared him to shoot him.

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“JT told RC to call someone to bring all the sticks,” the complaint continued about Binford’s account. “Binford didn’t know what JT meant but he thought it probably meant to bring weapons.”

Binford said he walked away to catch his bus, and told JT and RC “that if they wanted to do something to him he would be at the bus stop,” the complaint said.

“Binford said he felt threatened because of JT and RC’s past behavior. As Binford walked away, RC got into his way. Binford gave RC a ‘baby shove’ to create space. RC and JT ran up and jumped him. Binford ended up on the ground, but he was able to flip JT, and Binford threw a couple of punches at RC. Binford’s jacket was being pulled over his head. Binford said, 'I ain’t gonna lie — I pulled my pistol.' … Binford added, 'I just felt like if you wouldn’t put your hands on me this wouldn’t happen you know what I’m saying.' ”

There was a car between Binford and the teens, and he estimated he was 10 to 15 yards away from them when he fired his gun once. He said he didn’t know if anyone had been shot when he left the area.

Binford had a permit to carry a firearm. JT and RC were unarmed.

When investigators asked Binford why he shot “when they were all just standing there, Binford had no explanation and said it was just in the moment and he was sorry,” the complaint continued.

“Binford admitted he could have done something differently. Binford said he wouldn’t have shot (the teen) if they hadn’t put hands on him. Binford said they made his job hard, and he just wanted to come to work every day. Binford said it was not intentional — he didn’t come to work with the intent to harm someone. … Binford said he knew he could have left.”

On Friday, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said his thoughts are “with the young man who is fighting for his life, and his friends and loved ones.”

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“While we have taken meaningful steps together, as city and county leaders, to address this epidemic of gun violence in our community, it is clearly not enough,” he said in a statement. “Too many people have too easy access to deadly weapons that are all too often being used to respond to conflict — with devastating consequences. This gun violence is senseless and it needs to stop. Public officials cannot do it alone. We need all of our community pulling together to do everything we can to stem the tide of violence. Our children deserve to be safe in our community.”

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