One man charged in accidental shooting in St. Paul

Photo courtesy of Ramsey County 

A man has been charged with manslaughter in an accidental shooting in St. Paul, Minnesota that left a 25-year-old man dead Wednesday night. 

Joel Andrew Paulson, 31, of Stacy has been charged with manslaughter in the second degree and culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk. 

The victim was identified as 25-year-old Justin Finklea by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner. 

The shooting happened around 11 p.m. on the 400 block of Michigan Street. Dispatch had been advised that the caller’s drunk friends were playing with a firearm and that one person was shot.

When police arrived they found Finklea on the living room floor. He was pale and wasn’t breathing; he had an apparent bullet wound on his lower left torso and a possible exit wound under his right arm pit, the criminal complaint stated. 

The report also noted that police recovered a 9mm handgun on the floor in the living room. 

Paulson and several others were at the home. The criminal complaint said that Paulson was trying to figure out if Finklea had been shot. The defendant told a woman living at the home with her boyfriend that Finklea had tossed the gun to him and the gun went off. Paulson said he did not know the gun was loaded. 

Paulson did not live in the home. The female resident said that the two had been drinking when she arrived home earlier that evening. She believed that the gun belonged to Finklea and that he kept it for protection. She also told police that when she came out of the bedroom to see what had happened, another friend was sitting on the couch in shock and that the defendant was standing over the victim.

Police interviewed the friend that the female witness had referred to. He told investigators that he had witnessed the incident. 

It was the city's 22nd homicide in 2017.