The man suspected of shooting 16-year-old Shemel Mercurius inside her Brooklyn home on Tuesday was in police custody as of last night, having turned himself in after it was reported that Mercurius told police his name before she died. According to the NYPD, Taariq Stephens, a 24-year-old Brooklyn resident, has been charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, and will be arraigned today.
Mercurius was babysitting her three-year-old cousin when she was shot multiple times Tuesday night. Surveillance video showed a suspect entering and leaving her apartment building, apparently rushing into her apartment with a weapon. According to the NYPD, that weapon was a 40-caliber Kel-Tec submachine gun, which NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce described as "very dangerous."
The NYPD confirmed today that there was indeed damning surveillance footage, and that when police found Mercurius semi-conscious, she was able to tell them the first name of the suspect: Taariq.
According to the NY Daily News, Stephens, who has six prior arrests, turned himself in last night after his name was released. Though initial reports suggested that he was Mercurius's boyfriend, the NYPD is now saying those reports were inaccurate: Boyce told reporters yesterday that "From what we can read of the texts, it is not a romantic relationship. There's lot more to go in this case, a lot to figure out."
Mercurius moved to Brooklyn four years ago from Guyana, where her mother still lives and is currently scrambling to get a visa so that she can attend her daughter's funeral. Speaking with the Daily News, she remembered her daughter as "peaceful, loving, and inspirational."
In a statement released last night after Stephens's arrest, Mercurius's family said that "We would like to thank the NYPD for their quick apprehension of the suspect in the murder of Shemel Mercurius. We are now focused on making final arrangements to bury one of the most loving, friendly, and kind 16-year-olds. We are asking for the public's support to help with her homegoing service and burial arrangements. A scholarship in her memory will also be established. Our sincere appreciation and thanks for all your generous gifts and prayers."