Suffolk police said Thursday that a 17-year-old was shot eight times while driving on Sunrise Highway in North Babylon on Wednesday night. Authorities said the shooting was targeted. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday staff

The shooting of a teenager who was struck eight times while driving on Sunrise Highway in North Babylon late Wednesday was drug-related, Suffolk police officials said.

The 17-year-old victim was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was listed in critical but stable condition, Suffolk police Det. Lt. Shaun Spillane said Thursday during a news conference in West Babylon.

"We believe he was targeted," Spillane said. "We believe it is drug-related."

Spillane said Suffolk police responded to reports of shots fired on eastbound Sunrise Highway near Exit 39 around 10 p.m. Wednesday. Responding officers found the victim, who had been shot eight times in the head, neck, chest and arm, in a red Honda CR-V. The officers rendered first aid and transported the teen to the hospital.

Witnesses told investigators that the victim had been traveling eastbound in the center lane on Sunrise Highway when a dark SUV pulled up on his left, officials said.

A man in a black hooded sweatshirt leaned out of the SUV's passenger window and fired several shots into the victim’s Honda, Spillane said. Police recovered six shell casings from the scene. At least two people were in the SUV, the detective said, although there could have been more.

The Honda crashed into the right-hand guardrail, rear-ended another vehicle, and then crashed into the left-hand guardrail before it stopped. The driver of the dark SUV turned off the vehicle’s lights and fled east on Sunrise Highway, Spillane said. The victim was able to call 911 for assistance despite his injuries.

Investigators do not believe the shooting was gang-related, but Spillane said the incident, which occurred near a residential area, could have resulted in others injured as well.

"There were several cars nearby, three witnesses were in the vicinity, one of the witnesses’ cars was struck by the victim’s vehicle," Spillane said.

Spillane declined to identify the victim or where he lives, but said police have contacted the school district in his community to determine if he is a student. He said detectives have not been able to speak to the victim yet due to his medical condition.

The detective also declined to explain why investigators believe the shooting was drug-related, saying that it was still under investigation.

Spillane asked anybody with information about the shooting to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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