Reproduced from New York Daily News
The dangerous fugitive wanted for killing a teenage Brooklyn baby-sitter turned himself in Thursday.
Taariq Stephens, a 24-year-old man with a half-dozen prior arrests and a .40-caliber submachine gun, was identified two days after the cold-blooded shooting of 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius as her terrified 3-year-old nephew watched, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
He was being questioned at the 67th Precinct after surrendering to police Thursday evening, sources said.
The victim, with her dying breath, shared Stephens’ first name with cops inside the apartment. A video camera caught the armed killer forcing his way inside the home after the teen initially rebuffed his efforts.
The motive in the brutal killing remained unclear, and Boyce said initial reports that the killer was Mercurius’ boyfriend proved inaccurate.
“From what we can read of the texts, it is not a romantic relationship,” Boyce said. “There’s a lot more to go in this case … to figure out.”
Stephens was carrying a powerful Kel-Tec submachine gun when he forced his way into Mercurius’ Brooklyn Ave. apartment on Tuesday evening.
“He pulls out the stock of the gun before he shoots this young lady,” Boyce said. “He racks three times, leaving three full rounds outside on the hallway.”
One of the bullets tore through the teen arm and into her chest, leaving her with a fatal wound. The tot was not injured, although his mother said the child was terrified by what he saw.
Stephens’ lawyer contacted cops Thursday after his name was released and said the ex-con was ready to turn himself in, sources said. He later surrendered at the 67th stationhouse.
The slain girl’s weepy mother, Lovern Williams-Oliver, was scrambling in their native Guyana for a visitor’s visa to attend her daughter’s funeral.
The two last spoke only two days before the Tuesday night killing.
“She is my first baby,” said the mom as she fought back tears. “I don’t know how something like this can happen to my baby. She was peaceful, loving and inspirational.”
Four of her Edward R. Murrow High School classmates collected $137 toward paying for Shemel’s funeral.
“It just touched our hearts that her life ended so abruptly,” said Ebony Campbell, 15. “We felt like we had to do something.”
The family was still in the process of finalizing funeral plans for the girl.
“We went to the morgue this morning to identify the body,” said her grandmother Joan. “We don’t have a date yet, but we’re starting to put things together.”
The grandma said no one in the family had ever heard the name Taariq when cops asked about the suspect.
The slain girl’s classmates observed a moment of silence Thursday after her death was announced by Principal Allen Barge.
“She was such a nice person, sweet person,” said junior Kindersly Louis, 17. “When I saw her picture on the news, I started freaking out. I was crying and crying.”