Owners of charred home ruined in police shootout break silence
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The owners of the home that caught on fire following a tense, police involved shootout that rattled a South Florida neighborhood finally broke their silence, Wednesday.
The explosive series of events began as a drug investigation in Southwest Miami-Dade that spiraled out of control and ultimately resulted in one arrest and two confirmed deaths. "It was pretty tragic. I mean, I couldn't believe it," said the son of the owner of the home on Southwest 154th Court and 57th Terrace, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Just watching where I grew up, I could see from some of the pictures [on TV], I could see my room on fire," he continued.
They owners could not believe that the people to whom they rented out their house were accused of shooting at cops as they ran from the house. "The last thing we ever wanted to hear was that an officer was injured or a bystander was injured," the owner's son said. No officers were hurt during the gunfire exchange.
Police said it all started as a drug investigation. As they approached the house at around 7 p.m. Tuesday night, the three men inside opened fire, and the officers fired back. "Like AK-47, very fast shooting," observed a resident who lives nearby.
"It sounded like automatic [weapons], because [I heard] more than 10 [shots]," said another neighbor.
With a helicopter in the air, police on the ground, a Special Response Team deployed, and officers scrambling to block the roads in order to trap the gunmen, neighbors warned each other to take cover. Others recorded videos of the fire that captured audio of the gunfire exchange.
In the ensuing chaos, authorities apprehended one man, but two others remained on the loose: 27-year-old Michael Steven DiGiovanni and 50-year-old Dell Peter DiGiovanni.
Police discovered a body inside the charred remains of the gutted home Wednesday morning. "We believe that it is Michael Steven DiGiovanni," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. "Unfortunately, because of the condition of the body, we have to wait for confirmation for the medical examiner."
A short time later, they found their third suspect, Dell Peter DiGiovanni, hanging from a tree after an apparent suicide.
Even though they asked not to be identified, the owners of the home said they had rented out the house to the three suspects for about 10 years. Other than an occasional complaint from neighbors, they said their tenants' behavior did not warrant asking them to move out.
The third suspect, who has been identified as Brian Howell, remains in police custody. It is still unclear what charges he will be facing.
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