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Boy, 15, charged with random killing of St. Paul businesswoman

The teen shot her while she was going about her daily business, police said.

Authorities have arrested a 15-year-old boy who is suspected of killing a St. Paul businesswoman as she drove through the Payne-Phalen neighborhood on Feb. 16. 

The teenager was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Minneapolis, and was being held in Hennepin County jail on suspicion of second-degree murder in connection to the death of 34-year-old Julia (Yuliya) Li, of St. Paul, as well as other crimes that occurred in Hennepin County, the St. Paul Police Department said

He has been charged with second-degree murder and the Ramsey County Attorney's Office has filed a motion for certification to try him as an adult, county attorney spokesperson Dennis Gerhardstein told Bring Me The News. Due to the teenager's age, the criminal charges against him are not public.

Police found Li suffering from a gunshot wound in a vehicle on the 1000 block of Payne Avenue at around 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 16. She was taken to Regions Hospital, where she later died.

"Julia was just going about her daily business when she was shot. There’s nothing to indicate she knew or had ever interacted with the suspect in this case," St. Paul Police Department spokesperson Steve Linders told Bring Me The News.

Li was a global business director for Vadnais Heights-based H.B. Fuller, including on the company's Amazon business project. She joined the global adhesives company in 2017, Kimberlee Sinclair, the senior director of communications at H.B. Fuller, said in a statement to Bring Me The News.

“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 H.B. Fuller president and CEO Jim Owens in a statement.

Li moved to the U.S. in 2007 to study at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a bachelor's degree in economics and global studies. She went on to work for GE and Proctor & Gamble before returning to the Twin Cities to get her MBA from the University of St. Thomas.

"Julia was a beloved friend to many at H.B. Fuller. She was a young, vibrant woman with a lot to offer the world and a family who loved her deeply. The H.B. Fuller family mourns her loss," Sinclair said. 

Li is survived by her husband, parents and sister, with Sinclair noting her "loved ones are devastated by her death."

'Entirely preventable'

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell commended the Minneapolis Police Department for arresting the teenager, saying, "Their diligence and determination made this arrest possible and took a violent teen off the streets."

Linders said the teenager has "an extensive and violent criminal history." Details about this were unknown as of this writing.

“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," Axtell said, noting "This tragedy was entirely preventable."

He added: 

“If every spoke in the criminal justice wheel had been working together to hold this teen accountable for his previous crimes, Ms. Li would still be here today, the suspect may have been able to receive the help and consequences to right his course, and our city would not have had to suffer the trauma of hearing random gunshots echoing through a neighborhood.

“Tonight, I spoke with Julia’s husband. I told him that I’m incredibly sorry for his loss. I told him that the person responsible for his wife’s death was in custody. And I told him that my heart breaks for his entire family."

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