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Mayor: Suspect in St. Paul rec center shooting is city employee

St. Paul's Parks Department confirmed that the suspect, a 26-year-old man, has been employed on-and-off with the city since 2013.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Although charges have not yet been filed in the shooting of a teen at a St. Paul rec center Wednesday night, there is startling news about the man who allegedly pulled the trigger. 

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter told reporters Thursday that the suspect in the shooting outside the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center is an employee of the city of Saint Paul.

"We are shocked by this and I am one of those parents who sends my children to our rec centers," Carter said. “What happened yesterday is layers and layers of grief for our community that fill us all with questions that we have to acknowledge.”  

Squads were dispatched to the rec center at 270 Lexington Parkway just before 4:15 p.m., and found the teenage victim, who had been shot in the head. He was rushed to Regions Hospital with what were described as life-threatening injuries. 

The Jimmy Lee Recreation Center is near Central High School, which was placed in lockdown. Classes at Central were canceled Thursday to allow students to process what had happened. 

St. Paul's Parks Department confirmed to KARE 11's Kent Erdahl that the suspect, a 26-year-old man, has been employed on-and-off with the city since 2013, currently servicing as a community recreation specialist. His job responsibilities included engaging with young people and the community.

It's unclear if the city employee was working when the shooting occurred.

"Rec centers are very dynamic, where schedules can change on a dime," said St. Paul Parks Director Andy Rodriguez. "So, we are trying to figure out what the scheduling components were and all of those things, to find out the answer to that question."

The department could not comment on whether the suspect had a history of disputes or trouble. 

Carter says while the events of Wednesday night are still being looked into, one thing is clear: Anyone working for the city should not be carrying a firearm. 

"St. Paul prohibits employees from carrying guns at work," Carter said. 

The mayor added that the city can't outright ban firearms at the rec center because that action is pre-empted by state law. Carter says changing that policy has been on St. Paul's legislative agenda. 

As for the identity of the victim and his family, Mayor Carter told reporters they have requested to remain anonymous. 

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