MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Ramsey County Attorney’s office charged a Stacy man Friday in what is thought to be the accidental shooting death of his roommate in a St. Paul residence.
Joel Andrew Paulson, 31, faces one count of second-degree manslaughter in connection with Wednesday night’s fatal shooting of Justin Finklea, 25, in the West Seventh neighborhood.
The criminal complaint says Paulson was hanging out with Finklea and another friend in a home on the 400 block of Michigan Street when the shooting happened just after 11 p.m.
The other friend told police Paulson and Finklea had been drinking, and Finklea was playing with his 9mm handgun, repeatedly popping the magazine in and out and waving it around.
Paulson then started playing with the gun, and apparently pointed it at Finklea and pulled the trigger — unaware that a bullet was in the chamber.
Police say the bullet likely went through Finklea’s lower-left torso and exited through his right armpit.
Finklea was pronounced dead at the scene after first responders were unable to revive him.
The criminal complaint said Paulson first told investigators that Finklea accidentally shot himself, but later admitted to being the one holding the weapon when it discharged.
Paulson was also heard by audio captured in a St. Paul Police squad car telling his other friend, “Why would you have one [round] in there?” He also said, “Why did I grab it?” And, “I aimed it at the door, not even at him.” Paulson also told his friend, “You guys got to help me out, make sure I don’t go to jail for this.”
Paulson will make his first court appearance on Dec. 26. He could serve up to 10 years in prison if convicted.