(NY Daily News) A man armed with an assault rifle was spied barging into a Brooklyn apartment where a 16-year-old girl was shot to death, a police source said Wednesday.
Victim Shemel Mercurius initially tried to keep the gun-toting man and a female companion from coming inside, where she was babysitting her 3-year-old cousin, the source said.
A video camera caught the man trying to force his way into the apartment around 6 p.m. Tuesday before the high schooler finally opened the door and let him and the woman enter, the source said.
The pair were seen on video fleeing the sixth-floor apartment after Mercurius was mortally wounded as her tiny cousin howled in horror.
Cops said the dead girl’s boyfriend was “a person of interest” in the shooting. Mercurius was shot twice — once in each bicep — with one of the bullets punching through her arm and into her chest, police said.
The slain girl’s stunned father told the Daily News that he called Shemel’s mother in their native Guyana to deliver the heart-breaking news.
His oldest daughter was a “very nice person,” said dad Dexter Mercurius, 38. “Very nice, cool, person. No problem with anybody.”
Mercurius’ mother, who still lives in their native Guyana, remained unaware Wednesday of her daughter’s senseless killing.
The girl’s aunt, Latoya Price, took Shemel in four years ago when the girl immigrated with her dad from Guyana. The family was hoping she would attend college in the U.S.
“She’s not my niece, she’s like my daughter,” said the distraught Price, 31, on the morning after the slaying. “I feel like I gave birth to her.”
Mercurius, a junior at Edward R. Murrow High School, died Tuesday night at Kings County Hospital after she was hit by two bullets.
A neighbor said he saw a man sprinting down the stairs after the gunshots echoed through the building.
“She was a sweet, loving little kid,” said neighbor Bobby Blake, 39. “She’s not the type to be in any problems. She wasn’t raised in the street.”
Mercurius was baby-sitting her 3-year-old cousin Josiah, who watched the carnage from a few feet away. Neighbors heard the child’s screams over the gunshots.
“My son was in the room when she was shot,” said Price. “He said a man took a gun and there were gunshots popping. He knew she was hurt.”
Little Josiah, who escaped unharmed, lost his appetite after the horror show. “He doesn’t even eat now,” said his mom.
Price, who had planned to take her niece to Trinidad this summer, was now afraid to even enter her own apartment.
“I don’t know if they cleaned up the blood yet inside,” said Price. “That was a home we were sharing. It just wouldn’t be the same.”