Charges dropped against man arrested in fiery police shootout
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Charges have been dropped against one of three men accused of shooting at police from a burning Kendall house in February.
The other two men accused in the Feb. 19 firefight died. One was 50-year-old Dell Peter DiGiovanni, who police found hanging in a tree from his neck, not far from the scene, following the shootout. Police believe he committed suicide after fleeing the burning house.
The following morning, police discovered a body inside the charred remains of the gutted home. "We believe that it is Michael Steven DiGiovanni," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta of the second suspect, the 27-year-old son of DiGiovanni. "Unfortunately, because of the condition of the body, we have to wait for confirmation for the medical examiner."
Police said it all started as a drug investigation. As they approached the house on Southwest 154th Court and 57th Terrace at around 7 p.m., the night of Feb. 19. Police said the suspects opened fire on police, and officers fired back. "Like AK-47, very fast shooting," said a neighbor of the home.
With a helicopter in the air, police on the ground, a Special Response Team deployed, officers scrambled to block the roads in order to trap the gunmen. Neighbors warned each other to take cover while others recorded videos of the house catching fire and audio of the gunfire exchange.
In the aftermath of the shooting, police arrested 29-year-old Brian Howell who police found hiding in a neighbor's house. His charges were not immediately released. Two days after the shooting, Howell faced a bond court judge on a drug trafficking charge. Charges have since been dropped against him.
When he first bonded out, asked what happened at the house once it caught on fire, Howell responded, "I have no idea, I wasn't at the house at the time."
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