Suspect in Shooting Death of Teen Baby Sitter Arrested

Shemel Mercurius, 16, was baby-sitting her young cousin in East Flatbush when she was shot multiple times

What to Know

  • Shemel Mercurius, 16, was baby-sitting her young cousin in her Brooklyn apartment on Tuesday when she was shot multiple times.
  • Police have arrested 24-year-old Taariq Stephens, who allegedly used a .40-caliber submachine gun to kill Mercurius.
  • Video shows the gunman walking into her apartment, then running back out. The girl was able to describe her killer to cops before she died.

UPDATE: Brooklyn Man Charged in Shooting Death of Babysitter Pleads Not Guilty

The Brooklyn man identified as a suspect in the fatal shooting of a teenage girl in front of the 3-year-old boy she was baby-sitting has been arrested. 

Taariq Stephens, 24, was arrested on murder and weapons possession charges in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius Tuesday, police said.

Hours after police identified Stephens as a suspect in the killing, he turned himself in at NYPD's 67th Precinct station in Brooklyn Thursday evening.

The victim's family stood a few feet from Stephens on Friday as he was escorted out of the precinct station. Stephens looked at the ground as he walked and didn't make eye contact with any of the family members.

"I wanted to see if I know this guy, but honestly, I don't known this guy," said Dexter Mercurius, the victim's father. "I wanted to know why this guy killed my daughter."

It was unclear whether Stephens has obtained a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Surveillance video released by police shows Stephens taking the elevator up to the sixth-floor apartment on Brooklyn Avenue in East Flatbush Tuesday, where Mercurius was taking care of her young cousin. 

He then racks his gun before entering the apartment, where he allegedly fired three rounds at the girl.

"That is a very dangerous weapon, it's a 40-caliber Kel-Tec submachine gun," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a news briefing earlier Thursday.

Investigators haven't recovered the submachine gun. 

The relationship between Stephens and Mercurius isn't clear. Investigators are looking through text messages between them, but "she does not say it's her boyfriend," according to Boyce. "From what we can read of the texting, it is not a romantic relationship at all. So there's a lot more to go on this case, more to figure out." 

Stephens has six prior arrests, according to police, prompting neighbors to wonder how he was able to get his hands on such a dangerous weapon. 

"It's just crazy," said Jamal, who lives in East Flatbush. "It shouldn't have happened."

Mercurius was found semi-conscious in her apartment and later died at Kings County Hospital. She was able to name her alleged killer to police before she died.

Mercurius' aunt told NBC 4 New York that her 3-year-old son, whom Mercurius was baby-sitting, witnessed the shooting.

"My son was in the apartment screaming, and the neighbors heard him crying and started banging the door, but Shemel wasn't able to get up or move or do anything," said Latoya Price.

The boy was unharmed.

Mercurius' family said in a statement after Stephens' arrest, "We would like to thank the NYPD for their quick apprehension of the suspect... We are now focused on making final arrangements to bury one of the most loving, friendly and kind 16-year-olds."

The family says it's working to establish a scholarship in her memory. 

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