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St. Paul employee, Exavir Binford Jr., charged in St. Paul recreation center shooting

St. Paul city employee charged with shooting teenager at rec center
St. Paul city employee charged with shooting teenager at rec center 02:19

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A man who worked at a recreation center with teenagers has been charged in the of shooting of one of them.

On Friday, charges were filed in Ramsey County against 26-year-old Exavir Dwayne Binford Jr. -- one count of second-degree attempted murder, and one count of first-degree assault, both felony charges. City officials confirm he was an employee at Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, where the shooting happened.

Binford is a community recreation specialist at Jimmy Lee.

"Community relations specialist is the lead point of contact within a rec center for programs and day-to-day operations, engagement of young people and just seeing the processes through on a day-to-day basis for all rec center functions," said Andy Rodriquez.

In the Wednesday incident, the 16-year-old victim received a gunshot wound to the forehead, and was taken to Regions Hospital, where he underwent emergency neurosurgery. He remains in the intensive care unit with a life-threatening injury, the complaint says.

As many as 100 young people were at the recreation center when the shooting happened. Resources are being made available to kids who are traumatized.

St. Paul city employees, with the exception of police officers, are barred from carrying guns on the job.

"We are shocked by this and I am one of those parents that sends their kids to rec centers in general and to the Jimmy Lee Center in specific," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.

In 2020, Binford was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, but that charge was later dismissed, due to a lack of evidence.

Complaint Details

Police arrived at the rec center around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a shooting.

The complaint says that there had been a fight between a number of girls at the rec center prior to the incident. The rec center was locked down during the fight, and some students were not allowed inside, but rather made to wait in the parking lot.

One girl who was inside the building was allowed to let her cousin inside, which the complaint says upset Binford because "another employee undermined his authority." Binford allegedly argued with that girl who let her cousin inside, and was heard repeatedly calling her a "b****."

The 16-year-old victim became involved in the fracas, and Binford responded by showing the victim and another youth that he was carrying a gun. Upon the revealed gun, a number of students banged on the doors of the rec center to try to get inside. The two youths Binford allegedly showed his gun began punching Binford, beating him for what police said was "a couple of seconds."

It was after the fight ended that Binford allegedly backed up, pulled out the gun and shot one of the two in the head. The victim fell to the ground and Binford fled. Both of the youths were unarmed.

Police stopped Binford in a vehicle along Stillwater Avenue East in St. Paul. He was taken into custody, and had a 9mm handgun on his person. When police noted his coat had been ripped, he said, "Yeah, because I was attacked."

Officers also talked with Binford's mother, who the complaint says wanted to see her son before he was arrested so she picked him up in downtown St. Paul.

"I did something bad. I think I killed someone," he said when calling his mother, at about 4:30 p.m.

Binford told police that he felt bad about the altercation, and knew he should not have done it, and was "disappointed in himself." He also apologized to his mother.

He told police that he's had trouble with the victim ever since he arrived at Jimmy Lee Rec Center, and said his group fought at the nearby high school. He also claimed that the boy who was let back into the building by his cousin was part of the group who "was causing trouble." He said he was so frustrated by the situation that he clocked out and left the building. That's when he came into contact with the girls and the victim.

Binford said he felt threatened by the youths, and claimed that the victim told his acquaintance to "call someone to bring all the sticks," which he presumed to mean weapons.

Police asked him why he shot at the youths, and he said he didn't know, that it was "just in the moment." He acknowledged that the rec center employees were not aware that he was carrying a gun.

When asked by an investigator why he just didn't go back into the rec center before fighting the teens, he told them he made a mistake and didn't need to be lectured.

Binford's bail was set at $1 million.

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