15-year-old with ‘extensive and violent criminal history’ charged with random shooting of St. Paul business exec

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged a 15-year-old male late last month with murder for the apparently random, fatal shooting of a 34-year-old businesswoman in her car. Police were called to the Payne-Phalen area of St. Paul on February 16 where they found Julia (Yuliya) Li in her car with a gunshot wound. She died at the hospital a short time later.

“She was just going about her business when all of a sudden she was shot,” said police spokesman Steve Linders. Yi worked at H.B. Fuller in St Paul since mid-2017 and most recently served as a global business director and leading the company’s Amazon business project.

Linders said that the perpetrator had an “extensive and violent criminal history.” No further details were provided. We will update this post once we learn more about exactly how this offender fell through the cracks of the system designed to protect the public.

Sadly, this is yet another example of how our system has failed to put victims first, failed to help a young person going down a dangerous and destructive path, and failed our entire community.

St Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a statement. Chief Axtell continued,

If every spoke in the criminal justice wheel had worked to hold this teen accountable for previous crimes, Ms. Li would be here, the suspect would have received help and consequences to right his course, and our city would not have suffered the trauma of echoing gunshots.

Axtell said he spoke with Li’s husband after the arrest, telling him the “tragedy was entirely preventable.”

Li’s employer was even more specific in its critique of those who could have prevented her untimely death. “This tragic, senseless violence brought an end to the life of a bright, well-respected, committed, hard-working professional who will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her,” said a statement from company President and CEO Jim Owens. “It is even more gut-wrenching to learn that the young suspect had committed other violent crimes but had been released,” Owens’ wrote. He concluded by saying,

Our mayors, government officials and judicial officials need to create a system that does not allow young criminals to terrorize our community. Had they done a better job, Julia would be alive today.