2 men are charged in brutal carjacking caught on video: one’s on parole for 2 carjackings, the other’s bail for a gun case

CHICAGO — Two men, one on bond for a felony gun case and the other on parole for two carjackings, have been charged with robbing and carjacking a woman in the Beverly neighborhood, Chicago police said. The November 2 crime gained widespread attention when surveillance video of the hijacking went viral.

Calling the hijacking “appalling” and “brazen,” CPD said 20-year-old Damarri Conner and Kenneth Merritt, 25, have each been charged with one count of aggravated vehicular hijacking with a firearm and two counts of armed robbery with a firearm. Conner is also charged with three counts of misdemeanor resisting.

Speaking of the victims, the CPD statement said, “This is a trauma they will continue to live with. No one in our city should experience the fear that these victims felt.”

Police used video footage from private cameras, the CTA, and CPD’s surveillance network to identify and arrest the men, according to police. They will appear for detention hearings on Thursday afternoon.

Two men entered the back yard of the family’s home in the 9300 block of South Pleasant as a 46-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter were returning from the girl’s sports practice around 8:45 p.m. on November 2.

As the woman crossed the yard, two men ran up the driveway and knocked her to the ground. One ripped away her purse and rifles through it, while the other held a gun to the fallen woman.

They threatened to shoot the woman and then pointed a gun at her husband when he walked out the back door. He was also robbed.

After debating about which car they should take, the men drove away with the family’s Audi, police said. Someone returned to the family’s home on Tuesday and stole their other car, possibly with the keys that the robbers took on November 2.

In a detention petition, prosecutors said Conner racked the slide of a firearm, threatened to shoot the victims, and grabbed one of the victims by the neck during the crime. They said he was caught on video using one of the victims’ credit cards and clothes worn during the robbery were found in his bedroom.

Chicago police identified Merritt from surveillance footage as he used the husband’s American Express card to make a purchase at a BP station, according to his arrest report. He was wearing the same clothes that he wore during the robbery and carjacking, the report said.

Prosecutors said Merritt admitted to taking a bus to get to the robbery scene. Police found CTA surveillance video that supported his claim.

He has been on parole since July 2021 after serving half of three concurrent 10-year sentences he received for two robberies and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Those robberies were initially charged as aggravated carjackings, according to court records, but prosecutors allowed Merritt to plead guilty to the lesser charge in a plea deal.

CPD records show the carjackings both occurred on September 17, 2016: one in the 500 block of West Eugenie in Old Town and the other in the 2000 block of North Lincoln in Lincoln Park.

Conner is on bail for a felony gun charge, according to court records.

Chicago police responding to calls of shots fired and people shooting at each other in the 2100 block of East 97th Street on May 29 tried to stop Conner for an interview because he matched a description of one of the suspects, prosecutors said.

Conner ran from police, but was eventually caught with a loaded firearm tucked in his waistband, according to the allegations.

Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered him to pay a $1,000 bail deposit to be released in the case. He was on probation for a misdemeanor battery case at the time, officials said.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com