The Oxford Community Center, along with its Jimmy lee Recreation Center and Great River Water Park, reopened at 270 N. Lexington Pkwy. on February 18 with a free open swim, gym games and other recreational activities.
The reopening came one month after a shooting that critically injured a 16-year-old boy outside the center. The teen was shot by Exavir Binford Jr., 26, who was a member of the center staff. Binford’s position was terminated by the city and he was charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault.
Binford had worked for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation for several years. The incident occurred following a fight by students at Central High School and then at Jimmy Lee. The center was closed, but two teens began fighting with Binford afterward and he shot one of them in the head.
“The decision to close Oxford Community Center as the result of a shooting incident last month was both difficult and unprecedented, but a necessary step to center our focus on healing and recovery for our community, our youth and our staff,” said Parks and Recreation director Andy Rodriguez in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and support throughout this process, and we continue to hold close everyone impacted by this event.”
Measures taken to increase safety at Oxford
Parks and Recreation has spent the past few weeks looking at its operations and procedures there. While conversations remain ongoing, several measures are being undertaken at Oxford to increase safety and security. The building is being modified with a new access control system, security camera upgrades and improved common areas. Staff will receive additional training and onsite support. Changes will be made to the staffing model itself.
During the weeks Oxford was closed, city officials worked to relocate the child care and aquatics programs that operated there. Winter sports seasons were winding down when the shooting occurred.
“We are working closely with our police department, Saint Paul Public Schools, violence prevention groups and other community stakeholders as we continue to improve the Oxford Community Center experience for all,” Rodriguez said. “We will provide updates on these changes on the facility website and encourage feedback from neighbors and users of the facility.”
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