Police have arrested a suspect that they believe was involved in the shooting death of a Brooklyn teenager. He has been charged with her murder.
Shemel Mercurius, 16, was babysitting her 3-year-old cousin, Josiah, in Brooklyn May 31 when an armed gunman broke into the apartment a little before 6 p.m. and shot the girl to death, the New York Post reported. Shemel, who was later pronounced dead at King's County Hospital according to WABC, reportedly told responding officers that her killer's first name was Taariq.
Two days later, on June 2, Taariq Stephens, 24, turned himself in to the 67th Precinct police station in East Flatbush, according to the New York Daily News. Stephens has been formally arrested and charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
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Earlier that same day, police released surveillance footage taken from the apartment building where the shooting occurred. The footage shows the killer getting off the elevator on the sixth floor of the building while carrying a backpack and a .40-caliber Kel-Tec submachine gun. He reportedly racked the weapon three times before forcing his way into the apartment where Shemel was babysitting.
"…You see he pulls down the stop of the gun before he shoots the young lady," NYPD Chief of Detectives, Robert Boyce, said at a June 2 press conference, according to the New York Post. "He shoots her one time, it goes through her arm and into her body and causes her demise later on in the hospital."
Shemel's young cousin, Josiah, was not injured in the shooting, although his mother told the New York Daily News that the toddler witnessed the murder and was terrified by what he saw.
Stephens, who has half-a-dozen prior arrests on his record, reportedly lived close to the victim and had exchanged text messages with her for about two weeks prior to the shooting. Police are still examining the messages for a possible motive, but do not believe that the teen had a romantic relationship with her killer.
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Shemel, who was from Guyana, was a junior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn at the time of her death. Classmates helped raise $137 toward her funeral expenses, the New York Daily News reported.
"She was such a nice person, sweet person," junior Kindersly Louis, 17, told the New York Daily News. "When I saw her picture on the news, I started freaking out. I was crying and crying."