Palm Coast, FL
- Officials say the suspect in a pair of recent drive-by shootings at a Holly Hill apartment building is behind bars thanks to a collaboration between the Volusia and Flagler County Sheriff's Offices.
Dhaighamyoosuf Tariq Khawaja, 28, of Palm Coast was arrested on Wednesday in Flagler County after he was spotted riding in a van that detectives believe may have been used in at least one of the shootings. Khawaja's been charged with one count of shooting into an occupied dwelling and two counts of shooting into an unoccupied dwelling. As of Thursday, Khawaja was being held at the Flagler County Jail on $300,000 bond.
The first shooting happened early Monday morning at 1502 Old Kings Rd. in Holly Hill. A woman reported hearing gunshots at around 4 AM, and a vehicle was found later that day with a shattered rear window. Luckily, no one was hurt, but deputies found five bullet holes in a nearby vacant apartment. One of the rounds went through the front door and a bathroom wall. The others hit the back wall of the apartment. Two got lodged in the wall and the other two went through that wall and into a privacy fence outside.
Deputies were called back to the same apartment building at about 11:51 PM on Tuesday regarding another shooting. Again, no one was hurt, but one resident in the apartment building told deputies she was in the bathroom doing her eyebrows when a bullet came through the wall. She was one of four people in the building who heard the gunshots and took cover inside.
Detectives identified Khawaja as the suspect and say he was shooting at the apartments because he thought someone living there had stolen a gun. Investigators learned that Khawaja drives his father's beige 2003 Toyota van - the same kind of van that was spotted in the area during the investigation of the first shooting.
Flagler County Sheriff's detectives spotted that same van on Wednesday and followed it. Christopher Cordova, 25, was driving and Khawaja was a passenger. The van went to Khawja's home and then left a short time later with a small red car following behind.
Flagler deputies stopped both vehicles and arrested Khawaja on his active warrant. Cordova was arrested for driving with a suspended license. When deputies searched the red car that was following behind Cordova and Khawaja, they found a gun and a mask. The driver, 23-year-old Allen J. Brown, was arrested and charged with unlicensed carrying of a firearm.
"Thank God no one was hurt or killed by this idiot's little shooting spree," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. "The hard work on this case by our detectives and Flagler County's detectives just goes to show you that we're all in this together."
"FCSO and VCSO are committed to working together to get these offenders off the streets and into jail," added Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly. "I am proud of our deputies for keeping eyes on the suspect and keeping constant communication with Volusia so that Khawaja could be picked up as soon as the warrant was in hand."
Officials say detectives continue to investigate the shootings.
Mugshots courtesy Florida.Arrests.org.
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