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Tampa police surveillance leads to arrests in home invasion spree

TAMPA — Police say two men went on a rampage last week, barging into homes, holding victims at gunpoint and forcing them into closets before fleeing.

Police have charged Askia J. Holmes, 24, and Darius Darel Berrien, 20, with a slew of crimes in Temple Terrace and Tampa. According to arrest reports, here's what police say happened:

• On April 2 at 3:25 a.m., two armed men entered an apartment at 8980 Carriage Court in Temple Terrace, forced more than one victim into a closet, stole cell phones, a debit card and keys, went to a bank and took $200 from a victim's accounts.

• Less than two hours later, at 5:20 a.m., the pair went to another apartment at Tuscany Pointe Apartments, 3350 W Hillsborough Ave. A resident who inadvertently left his door unlocked was accosted by two men with guns in his bedroom. They demanded money and car keys, locked him in his closet and fled, taking the man's vehicle.

• The next morning, on April 3 at 2 a.m., police say, the pair returned to Tuscany Pointe Apartments, and approached a man smoking outside an apartment. They forced him inside, where the man's roommate and his girlfriend were sleeping. The suspects detained the three adults on the floor and stole their valuables. They ordered the woman to strip nude and forced her to lie on her back in her bed. Then they locked the two male victims in a closet and left.

• An hour later, they approached a man sitting in his car outside another Tuscany Pointe apartment, forced him inside and held him captive, along with his brother and two overnight guests. They took their valuables and threatened to kill them, and fled with the loot.

Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said that by the third attack at Tuscany Pointe, investigators were determined to end the rampage. Police issued a bulletin to apartment residents and placed two undercover squads at the complex over the weekend.

On Tuesday all the pieces fell into place. At 2:10 a.m., police said, robbers approached a victim outside an apartment at 7601 River Course Drive in Temple Terrace. They took two cell phones, hit the person and fled.

At 2:40 p.m., after full-time surveillance by two squads, officers pulled over Berrien's car and found Holmes with him. They arrested Holmes on a violation-of-probation charge, and found items belonging to the robbery victims, a report says.

Police say both men later confessed to participating in the crimes. Police recovered firearms, cell phones, electronics, credit cards, IDs and clothes.

Police say Berrien of 1517 University Woods Place and Holmes of 910 Delaney Circle, Apt. 202, committed three home invasions and one armed robbery in Tampa; two home invasions in Temple Terrace; and two home invasion robberies, one strong-arm robbery and one burglary elsewhere. They face 19 felony counts, including home-invasion robbery, kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking and false imprisonment. They were being held without bail Wednesday.

Tampa police surveillance leads to arrests in home invasion spree 04/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 11:56pm]
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