Little Canada Man Charged after Allegedly Pushing Man into Oncoming Traffic, Killing Him

Updated: 08/22/2014 3:04 PM
Created: 08/22/2014 2:57 PM
By: Megan Stewart

A 41-year-old man has been charged with murder after allegedly pushing another man into oncoming traffic Wednesday in Little Canada.

The incident happened on the northbound side of the 2400 block of Rice Street around 9 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint, Robert Alan Hilgren of Vadnais Heights was drinking at a friend’s house when his wife got a call from their son saying he was being chased.

The couple found their son apparently squared off with another man, identified as Michael John Merten III, the complaint says. Hilgren confronted the man, yelling “That’s my son. You want to beat up a 23-year-old kid? It’s his birthday. You want a piece of me? You want to throw down with me?”

Hilgren and Merten eventually ended up arguing in the middle of the street. A witness who drove by during the confrontation told investigators they saw a bald man push another man, who then tripped and landed in the road.

The car hit Hilgren, the complaint says. First responders administered CPR but said he had little chance of surviving his injuries.

Hilgren was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he later died from his injuries, according to authorities.

Hilgren’s wife chased Merten as he left the scene, the complaint says. A witness told investigators Merten showed no emotion and stood behind a vehicle until police arrived. He then ran from the area, the complaint says.

Officers set up a perimeter and searched a trailer park for Merten. He was found at his father’s home and taken into custody, repeatedly asking why, the complaint says.

Merten is facing a felony charge of second degree murder.

Michael John Merten III
Photo: Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

Minneapolis/St. Paul

79° | 60°
  • Feels like: 66° F
  • Wind: WNW 7mph
  • Humidity: 63%