St. Paul's Jimmy Lee Rec Center reopens for first time since shooting

Jimmy Lee Rec Center opened its doors for the first time on Saturday since an employee nearly killed a 16-year-old boy last month.

Twenty-six-year-old Exavir Dwayne Binford Jr., who officials say worked at the rec center, was charged in connection to the Jan. 18 shooting of a 16-year-old boy in the building's parking lot. According to the charges, Binford shot the boy after the teen got into a fight with another teen.

St. Paul Parks and Recreating director Andy Rodriguez says the shooting shocked his entire department, "It was really time to hit reset for us, we’re excited that we’re open again," Rodriguez told FOX 9. "We’ve never had anything like this happen in the history of our time, so it’s probably the worst incident in the history of our department’s history."

Because of that, they felt the need to take a month to focus on the healing of staff who were in the building on that day. They also used the time to re-tool their security measures and retrain staff on de-escalation and behavior intervention.

St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter attended the reopening and says he wants to have conversations with the state legislators to move forward with a bill changing state law and banning firearms from rec centers. He believes the change would better protect places like the rec center. 

"It’s been a crown jewel of our whole city for so long, and it is the epitome of the type of place that we want for our young people," Mayor Melvin Carter said. "To have it back open and have it back active, to see community members come flock in the way that they have this morning, is really heartening."