MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police say they have identified four suspects after a shootout between two cars on the streets of downtown Minneapolis ended in a crash that killed an innocent woman Wednesday night.
While police initially said four men had been arrested, a department spokesperson later told WCCO they have only identified suspects and no one is in custody.
Police received a call just after 11 p.m. about multiple gunshots coming from the 1800 block of Nicollet Avenue. There were reports of two cars driving side by side, shooting at each other. Multiple men were occupying each car.
John Giamattei and his wife, Nancy, were in their North Loop hotel room Wednesday night when they thought they heard fireworks.
“It wasn’t until I saw smoke and all the fire and police and all of that,” Nancy Giamattei said.
Police believe the vehicles made their way to the intersection of Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue in the North Loop, near Target Field. The two cars collided, and one of them hit a woman riding a scooter on the sidewalk. Police said she was an innocent bystander. She died at the scene.
Family and friends identified her as 18-year-old Autumn Merrick.
“It is my understanding that the female on the scooter was doing exactly that, she was out on a scooter riding down the sidewalk and she was an innocent bystander of what appears to be a violent exchange between cars,” police spokesperson Garrett Parten said. “To that degree, I can tell you that this kind of death, it affects our officers. It’s upsetting to see this kind of violence result in this kind of death.”
WCCO spoke Thursday with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey near the scene.
“My heart breaks for her entire family. This is tragic, it’s a kid who was just trying to have a night on the town and head home safely. It’s unacceptable. When you perpetrate that kind of violence, you injure not just the person that you’re shooting at. It ends up being a plague on our entire city,” Frey said.
Frey says more police are needed.
“They need to be more of, yes, a deterrent in many of these cases so that people who would otherwise engage in some of these violent activities don’t, because they know they’ll gonna get caught.”
Steve Cramer, Minneapolis Downtown Council president, agrees with the mayor.
“We have to have sufficient policing and law enforcement resources to hold people who do conduct themselves in that way accountable,” Cramer said.
Jay Ettinger, who owns The Pourhouse Downtown, says he thinks it will take flipping the city council to make the city safer, along with getting violent criminals off the street. Otherwise, he believes it will get worse.
“Honestly I think people will leave,” he said.
Multiple residents told WCCO they are thinking of not renewing their lease or moving out of the North Loop because of the crime.
Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. Four men involved in the shootout and crash were hospitalized with serious injuries. Police recovered guns from both cars at the scene.
Merrick’s death has been ruled a homicide, making it the city’s 74th homicide of the year.
Friends And Family Remember Autumn Merrick
Strangers left flowers at the scene Thursday, while police appeared to pick up evidence and crews cleaned up the mess left behind. Anna Luster came to say goodbye to her great niece.
“It’s not fair. It is not fair,” Luster said. “My grandson called me hysterically crying. I said, ‘Trevon, what is wrong?’ He said, ‘Autumn is gone.’ Her and my grandson are both the same age … they both just graduated from high school.”
Yisela Ortega, Merrick’s friend, said she was having a hard time processing the fact that her friend is gone.
“She didn’t deserve this,” Ortega said. “She was a light everywhere she went. That was my sister.”
Ortega said Merrick was full of life and was always willing to help others.
“Every time we would hang out if you were ever feeling sad or anything she would just lift your spirits up,” Ortega said.
The 18 year old had big plans, preparing to move out of her mother’s place and into her own apartment. She was also thinking about making a leap into a new job.
“You hear all this stuff on the news and you never think it will hit close to home, and when it does it doesn’t feel real,” Ortega said.
Merrick’s family did not want to share a photograph of her, and asked for privacy while they try to make sense of the incident which took her young life.
A GoFundMe has been created for Merrick’s family. To access it, click here.