A man who followed an intoxicated man down Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis was joined by two others before one punched him in the face and stole his cellphone as he lay unconscious and bleeding on the sidewalk, according to charges against one of the suspects.
Adrian Hernandez, 44, of Minneapolis, fell after he was struck and his head hit the pavement shortly before 3 a.m. Aug. 22 near 10th Street and Hennepin Avenue S., according to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office.
He suffered a brain injury and died Sunday night.
The father of grown children worked doing makeup for clients at salons in the Twin Cities and had been a lay leader in the Catholic Church, said friend Melissa Melnick.
“We talked some about his interest in religion and God,” said Melnick, who is a pastor intern in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “It was a conversation I was looking forward to continuing about him being a leader in [the ELCA].”
Hospital staff told investigators soon after the assault that Hernandez was bleeding from the nose and mouth, suffered multiple skull fractures and cranial bleeding, adding “there’s a chance he could die soon,” according to police records.
Vereice D. Washington, 20, of Brooklyn Center, was arrested the morning after Hernandez was attacked in what police are calling a random crime.
Police say Washington had Hernandez’s cellphone.
Washington, who police say goes by the nickname “Lil Low” and is serving probation from an earlier crime, so far has been charged with aggravated robbery and first-degree assault.
Hernandez’s death could mean additional charges will be filed. He remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Police say two other men were involved in the attack but have not been arrested.
A police report noted that two suspects were seen by security guards running from the scene.
Other incidents involving the victimizing of intoxicated people have prompted police this summer to caution the public about how to limit their chances of being targeted, including: Avoid walking alone at night, limit alcohol consumption while out, and if you arrive as a group, leave as a group; don’t leave someone behind.
According to the criminal complaint:
Washington told police that he first saw a “very intoxicated” Hernandez close to Augie’s bar on Hennepin near 4th Street, the court document read.
Washington said he asked Hernandez whether he could use his cellphone, and Hernandez said no.
Washington walked with Hernandez for several blocks down Hennepin, then two of Washington’s accomplices showed up. They go by “Big Loc” and “KO.”
The three discussed punching and robbing Hernandez. When they reached 10th Street and Hennepin, “Big Loc” punched Hernandez once in the face, and the victim hit his head on the pavement.
It was while Hernandez was down on the street, unconscious and bleeding, that Washington reached into the man’s pocket and took his cellphone.
Among the witnesses was Andrew Erickson, a University of St. Thomas overnight security officer who was making the rounds that night with his partner outside the school’s Minneapolis campus.
Erickson said Tuesday that he saw two males “running faster than what you might expect, it was more like sprinting, and that caught our attention.”
Erickson said he saw one of the two take off a red sweatshirt and throw it on the ground.
According to the complaint, Washington told police he took off his red hooded sweatshirt as he ran.
A third person walked briskly toward Erickson and asked whether he had seen anyone running by and added that an assault just occurred nearby.
Erickson and his partner reported what they knew to their dispatch center and came upon Hernandez, bleeding and breathing but unconscious. An ambulance arrived in less than a minute, the campus officer added.
Washington’s criminal history in Minnesota includes felony auto theft in Hennepin County in 2010, when he was a teenager, and gross-misdemeanor convictions in Ramsey County in 2011 for domestic assault and for theft in Hennepin County in March.
He’s currently on probation in connection with the latter case.
A memorial service has been planned for Friday.
Staff writer Matt McKinney contributed to this report.