2012-06-20 / Front Page

Cops, Kin Seek Help In Highway Slay


Queens detectives are reaching out to the public for help in solving the bizarre drive-by shooting of a young mom on the Grand Central Parkway on Mother’s Day.
Law enforcement sources said investigators “are pulling out all the stops” in their search for the gunmen who mowed down mother of two, Stephanie Taveras, 21.
“They’re looking at the shooting from all angles,” the sources said. “From road rage to a possible gang connection, to revenge or a possible execution hit.’’
“They’re not thinking anything is too far out to consider.”
Taveras, who grew up in Astoria, was with a man she had met earlier that evening on a Glendale street corner, police said.
Cops said Rafael Herrera, 29, and Taveras were at a house party in Glendale when the booze ran out. The pair jumped into a friend’s 2007 white BMW to buy more beer and liquor, police said.
Herrera said they were driving on the Grand Central Parkway when a dark-colored SUV suddenly pulled up alongside  and opened fire, spraying the front and passenger side of the car with at least 10 rounds, shattering the passenger side window and striking Taveras in the head.
Herrera told police he was driving in the center lane of the highway at about 3:45 a.m. when the SUV “suddenly came out of nowhere”.
Herrera said he heard one shot “by itself”, and then he heard four more. Herrera told police the other shots came close together and he ducked and sped away. He drove Taveras to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
The registered owner of the BMW, Edda Sanz, 23, told police she was in the process of selling the car to a man who was at the house party. Sanz said she loaned the car to Herrera for the booze run.
Cops questioned Herrera, who has a history of arrests for drug use and possession. Sources said investigators are unclear on who the target was and on Herrera’s relationship with Sanz.
Investigators are trying to determine a motive for the shooting and whether Herrera or Taveras was the intended target.
“It’s a mystery,” police sources said. “They’re looking into possible gang retaliation, but nothing is off the table.”
Taveras lived in Irvington, New Jersey with her 18-month-old son and four-year-old daughter. She moved to New Jersey several months ago, family members told reporters.
Family members are pleading with the public to help police find the shooter.
Police are urging anyone with information to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
The Hotline is offering a $2,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter(s).

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