Family members on Friday identified the young woman who was on a scooter when she was hit by a vehicle and killed in downtown Minneapolis during a rolling gun battle between occupants of two SUVs this week.
Autumn Rose Merrick, 18, was killed after leaving work and riding outside a hotel near Target Field about 11 p.m. Wednesday, said her great-grandmother, Marietta Merrick.
Four men were taken to the hospital with serious injuries that were believed to have been inflicted during the two-vehicle crash, said police spokesman Garrett Parten. Guns were recovered from both vehicles, Parten said.
As of Friday, police have yet to update the conditions of any of the men or say whether they have been arrested.
Marietta Merrick said Autumn's death will weigh heavily on a family wedding Saturday in Osseo, where the bride is one of the teenager's aunts.
"It's not going to be as happy a celebration as we had hoped," said Marietta Merrick, whose daughter is getting married.
An aunt, Naomi Merrick, said she last connected a few months ago with Autumn, who was living downtown near the Minneapolis Farmers Market along Lyndale Avenue, about 1 ½ miles from where the crash occurred.
"She was happy with everything, graduating high school [from Minneapolis Southwest], and she told me she had a job," Naomi Merrick said.
"Family meant a lot to her," the aunt said, "and her friends too. Her friends kind of became her family."
At the intersection late Friday afternoon where Merrick died, N. 5th Street and N. 6th Avenue, numerous roses were encircled by dozens more. Several bouquets formed a modest stack nearby. A foot or two away, a handwritten note addressed to Merrick held its place on a fire hydrant.
An online fundraising effort started on the family's behalf revealed more about Autumn Merrick and how she was just going about her life in the moments leading up to her death.
"Autumn was an innocent victim in a tragic accident while riding a scooter home with her girlfriend Aisha," wrote Elana Dahlberg, the fundraiser's organizer. "She had stopped to grab a blue slushy and snacks after a long day of work."
Dahlberg added that Autumn Merrick one of the founders of Green Garden Bakery, a youth-run business in North Minneapolis.
"Autumn was a great baker and even better teammate to work with," Dahlberg wrote.
The first sign of trouble Wednesday night came when officers received several calls about occupants in two vehicles shooting at each other near 18th Street and S. Nicollet Avenue following some sort of altercation.
A few minutes later, vehicles matching the descriptions of those involved sped through downtown with the men inside still shooting at each other until they crashed near the intersection of N. 5th Street and N. 6th Avenue, police said.
Police and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office are classifying Merrick's death as a homicide — the 76th of the year, according to a Star Tribune database.
The crash is at least the fourth in the city this year and the second downtown since late May involving willfully dangerous driving behavior that killed a bystander.
On May 24, a man driving erratically ran over two men on Marquette Avenue, police said. One of the men, 62-year-old Steven Rice of Burnsville, died, and the person with him was seriously injured.
Thomas L. Hunter, 27, of Minneapolis, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. Hunter remains jailed ahead of a court hearing next week.
On June 13 in Uptown, Deona Marie Knajdek was struck and killed by an SUV driver while protesting Winston Smith's fatal shooting that same month by members of a federal law enforcement task force. Nicholas D. Kraus, 35, of St. Paul, remains jailed and is scheduled to go on trial March 21 on one count of second-degree intentional murder and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
On June 15, a suspected drunken driver struck and killed skateboarder Dychaun L. Chew, 16, of Minneapolis, at N. 51st and Fremont avenues. The driver, Bobby F. Brookins, 34, of Minneapolis, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide and is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 6.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482