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Woman shot, killed by attempted carjackers in Boulder County, police said

Taylor Smith-Maxwell and her mother were driving home when she was shot early Sunday morning in the area of Highway 287 and Yellowstone Road, deputies said.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The suspects in an attempted carjacking early Sunday, resulting in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old woman, had been consuming drugs and selling fentanyl and had escaped from a pursuit with a deputy 15 minutes earlier, according to the affidavit in the case.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said around 12:15 a.m. Sunday, a Larimer County Sheriff's deputy tried to pull over a driver on suspicion of DUI in unincorporated Larimer County. The driver refused to stop and was last seen headed south on Highway 287 near Highway 56, where the deputy stopped chasing them.

The shooting victim, identified as 21-year-old Taylor Smith-Maxwell, and her mom came across the car near Highway 287 and Yellowstone Road at about 12:30 a.m.

The mother told authorities that she and her daughter were driving home in their truck when they saw a silver sedan going south on Highway 287 with sparks flying out from the vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit in the case.

The suspects got out of the car, and one of them shot at the truck with a handgun, hitting the daughter in the passenger seat, deputies said.

The mother saw her daughter had been shot and drove her to Longmont United Hospital, but efforts to save her daughter's life weren't successful, the affidavit says.

The victim's name has not yet been released.

Police said they believe the suspects fired into the truck in an attempt to carjack the victims. The affidavit says the suspect vehicle popped a tire during the chase with the Larimer County deputy, and the suspects decided they needed a new vehicle. They passed a gun back and forth between them before the planned carjacking.

Martin Cerda, 23, of the Greeley area, fired the shot into the truck, the affidavit says.

Police said the suspects and the victim did not know each other. 

The sheriff's office said the silver sedan was later found disabled in the roadway in the area of Highway 287 and Yellowstone Road. Multiple people were seen running away from it, deputies said.

Police found the suspects in a camper parked on a residential property near where the car was abandoned. Four people were taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

Boulder County Sheriff's deputies said the suspects had been consuming drugs and that Cerda and Adriana Vargas, 24, of the Greeley area, had been selling fentanyl that night.

Cerda was arrested and charged with:

  • Second-degree murder
  • Attempted aggravated robbery
  • Vehicular eluding
  • Possession of a weapon by a previous offender

Vargas was arrested and charged with:

  • Second-degree murder 
  • Possession of a weapon by a previous offender
  • Several outstanding arrest warrants not associated with this investigation

Deputies said a third person, a 24-year-old woman from the Greeley area, was arrested on several unrelated warrants out of Weld County. It wasn't clear whether the fourth person taken into custody was arrested.

Credit: Colorado Dept. of Corrections
Martin Cerda
Credit: Colorado Dept. of Corrections
Adriana Vargas

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