Columbus police share video of suspected gunman in death of teen girl at Far East rec center

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Makenzi Ridley, 17, graduated from Northland High School on June 3. She was shot and killed on June 24 outside the Far East Community Center.
Makenzi Ridley, 17, graduated from Northland High School on June 3. She was shot and killed on June 24 outside the Far East Community Center.

Columbus police have released surveillance footage of a male juvenile they say is the suspected gunman who fired a hail of bullets that killed a 17-year-old girl and sent a crowd of teens scattering in June outside a city recreation center on the Far East Side.

Nearly six months after Makenzi Ridley was killed on June 24, the video with no audio was posted Tuesday on the Columbus Division of Police's YouTube page and shared via the agency's Twitter account.

Captured from what appears to be a surveillance camera atop the Far East Community Center, the 41-second video shows two angles of the young male whom police say they believe is the suspect.

The male is first seen walking outside the recreation center on Lattimer Drive south of East Livingston Avenue. After nearly 10 seconds, the video cuts to another angle showing a parking lot with soccer fields in the background where several young people flee following the eruption of gunfire, including the alleged gunman himself who looks to be holding a weapon.

The video does not show the young male firing the gun into the crowd.

More than 100 people, most of them juveniles, were gathered outside the recreation center before the shots were fired around 8:45 p.m., police have said.

Among them was Ridley, a 17-year-old Northland High School graduate and budding entrepreneur who owned her own boutique. The teenager's mother told The Dispatch the next day that her daughter had been shot in her left arm, and the bullet traveled through her body, striking her heart.

Ridley was transported to Mount Carmel East Hospital, where she died after 9 .m.

Makenzi Ridley: Teen who was killed in gunfire outside the Far East rec center 'was everything,' mom says

At a news conference the next day outside the recreation center, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant, on her first official day on the job, said that some witnesses were coming forward. But any information they provided has not yet led to an arrest.

Sgt. James Fuqua, a police spokesman, did not have an explanation on Tuesday for why six months had passed since the fatal shooting before the surveillance video was publicly released. The video was posted to the police division's social media sites with no media release issued and no news conference such as the one held June 25 by Bryant and Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.

Call to action: Motivated by own son's death, Malissa Thomas-St. Clair fights for end to Columbus violence

Makenzi Ridley, 17, graduated from Northland High School on June 3. She was shot and killed on June 24 outside the Far East Community Center. Ridley was set to attend Wilberforce University in the fall.
Makenzi Ridley, 17, graduated from Northland High School on June 3. She was shot and killed on June 24 outside the Far East Community Center. Ridley was set to attend Wilberforce University in the fall.

Ridley is among 28 people under the age of 20 who have been killed in Columbus in 2021. Sixteen of them were minors, including two sibling children slain Dec. 7 in the parking lot of a Southeast Side apartment complex along with their mother's 22-year-old boyfriend in what the lead homicide investigator has said was a "targeted assassination."

Detectives have said they believe two suspects were behind that triple homicide, but no arrests have been made two weeks later. Photos of the suspect vehicle involved in the incident were released a week after the shooting, but it's unclear if Columbus police obtained or plan to release surveillance video at the apartment complex that captured the suspects or the shooting.

Deadly violence involving juveniles: Killing of young man and two children on Columbus' Southeast Side was 'targeted assassination'

Even before the triple homicide, a record number of people had already been killed in 2021 in Columbus for the second year in a row. Last year's homicide record was surpassed on Nov. 22, and the death toll continues to climb with 10 days left in the year.

For subscribers: For second consecutive year, Columbus sets homicide record

In a media release Tuesday night, Columbus police announced that the 195th homicide of the year in Columbus had been reached after a 58-year-old man shot earlier this month had died Sunday of his injuries.

Anthony Merchant was shot multiple times in the stomach, right arm and right leg on Dec. 2 on the West Side.

Columbus police, who were dispatched around 2:21 a.m. on a report of a shooting in the 300 block of Midland Avenue found Merchant about three streets to the west at the corner of South Highland Avenue and Sheridan Street. Columbus medics took him to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.

Merchant was reported to be in critical yet stable condition, and police said they expected him to survive his injuries. But Merchant died at 12:24 a.m. Sunday after more than two weeks in the hospital.

No suspects have been identified in Merchant's death.

As the violence rages, city leaders, including Ginther, have repeatedly spoken to the need for the community to come together to not only share information on crimes with police, but to engage in positive ways with youth.

Anyone with information on Ridley's death or any homicide can call the Columbus Division of Police's homicide unit at 614-645-4730 or report an anonymous tip to the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.

Eric Lagatta is a reporter at the Columbus Dispatch covering public safety, breaking news and social justice issues. Reach him at elagatta@dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter

@EricLagatta

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus police share video of suspect in June killing of teenage girl

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