Four victims' lives cut short

From left, Jaime Taccetta, Jennifer Mejia, and Raymond From left, Jaime Taccetta, Jennifer Mejia, and Raymond Ferguson were killed in a shooting at a Medford pharmacy. A fourth victim, Byron Sheffield, is not pictured. Photo Credit: Handouts

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For Bryon Sheffield, one of the four people shot to death on Father's Day inside Haven Drugs, trips to the Medford pharmacy were part of his usual routine of filling his ailing wife's prescriptions.

Another victim, Jaime Taccetta, was a month away from her wedding and was looking forward to seeing her father later that day at a cookout.

Pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, one of the first to die, shot by a gunman who police said came in to steal prescription painkillers, was working on what would have been his day off. He was a few weeks away from celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary.

Ferguson's assistant, Jennifer Mejia, was approaching a milestone in life: She was only a few days from attending her senior prom, and then graduating from Bellport High School.

Sheffield, 71, the oldest victim, was a father of two, a grandfather, and a carpenter who lived in a Medford neighborhood for years, a familiar sight to neighbors who often saw him sitting on his porch.

"It's as they say, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Cari Bendo of Medford, a family friend.

 

Jennifer Mejia

Mejia, 17, was the youngest victim. The industrious teenager planned to attend Suffolk County Community College in the fall. Had she not been killed, Mejia would have been taking year-end exams this week along with all her classmates.

The school prom and graduation will take place as planned. Assistant Principal Brian Norton said the school will pay tribute to Mejia at both events.

"We will continue with our graduations with heavy hearts," he said, calling Mejia "a ray of sunshine."

Mejia was the third of Rene and Antonia Mejia's four children. The Mejias were active members of the Hispanic Apostolate for the Roman Catholic Church in Brookhaven. The Rev. Freddy Lozano, pastor of the church, said the Mejias attended Mass on Saturday night. Jennifer Mejia brought one of the offerings to the altar during the Mass, he said.

Afterward, the two had a brief exchange. Thinking of Mejia's impending graduation, Lozano joked, "I heard you are having a party Sunday. Aren't you going to invite me?"

"Yes, of course," she replied.

Lozano stayed with the Mejia family until 4 a.m. Monday. They are now "very destroyed," and Antonia Mejia is "like crazy," he said.

"No one expected this, no one understands this," Lozano said. "The parish has lost a girl of great aspirations."

Mejia planned to study medicine and become a doctor or a nurse. Her profile in the school yearbook includes this quote: "I love the nights that I can't remember, with the people that I won't forget."

 

Jaime Taccetta

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Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville, was also at a happy crossroads in her life. She had recently moved in with her fiance, James Manzella. The two were to be married next month. Taccetta's father, Ralph Taccetta, said his daughter was spending time at the gym getting ready for the big day, hoping to look her best in the wedding dress her father stored downstairs in his house.

Jaime Taccetta was the mother of two, one a teenager, the other only 5 years old. While her older child knows about her mother's death, the younger does not.

Ralph Taccetta had not yet broken the news to Jaime's mother, who was on vacation in Jamaica with her mother and sister-in-law. She was scheduled to return Monday night.

Ralph Taccetta said his wife and mother-in-law are in poor health and that he is worried the shock will be too much for them to bear. As a precaution, he planned to greet them at the airport with a medical team.

"You just can't believe it," Taccetta said. "It's so hard to acknowledge."

He spoke to his daughter minutes before she was killed. She called him to make sure he was attending a cookout at her home later that day. He said "sure" and hung up to get ready.

 

Raymond Ferguson

Ferguson, who lived in Centereach, worked most days at the Waldbaum's pharmacy in Melville, and occasionally at Haven Drugs, helping out a few times a month when the pharmacy was short-handed. That was the case Saturday when he got a call from store owner Vinoda Kudchadkar asking if he could come in the next day.

He had spoken to his niece on the phone about 30 minutes before he was killed to confirm his attendance at her elementary school graduation ceremony.

"I'll see you Monday," he told his niece, according to Ferguson's wife, Viedya Sabrina Quail.

Quail, 34, and Ferguson, 45, were to celebrate their anniversary July 4. The two met 17 years ago when Quail was a cashier at a Queens pharmacy. Ferguson went to college at New York University and earned his pharmacist's degree at St. John's University.

Standing in the dining room of the couple's home, Quail said her husband's murder was "still not realistic."

"They don't make them like him anymore," said Quail, a nurse at Elmhurst Hospital, looking at photographs of the two of them. "He was a true gentleman, he never spoke a mean word to anyone."

The couple had no children. Ferguson's parents, Carmela and Raymond Ferguson Sr., live in Oviedo, Fla. He was their only child.

As wives, fathers, and friends mourned Monday, a community also took notice. The Medford Fire Department flew its flags at half staff and posted a sign that read: "It is with deep regret that we mourn the loss of four members of the Medford community."

With Tania Lopez, Bart Jones, Olivia Winslow, Patrick Whittle, Matthew Chayes and Victor Manuel Ramos

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