2 teachers charged in connection with shooting at Preserve at Oslo complex

PHOTO BY KAILA JONES

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Two elementary school teachers were jailed in connection with a shooting that left a man wounded at an apartment complex, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies said the men – searching for a woman they met earlier at a club – had gone to the wrong apartment and got into an altercation with the resident, leading to the shooting.

Deputies learned the names of both men and their address through an anonymous tip sent in to Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said. It was not immediately known how much the tipster could receive as an award for helping detectives.

Darius Cohen
PHOTO PROVIDED BY INDIAN RIVER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Darius Tyonne Cohen and Akkua Jamel Hallback, both 26 and physical education instructors, were arrested late last week, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. Cohen taught at Indian River Academy while Hallback was a teacher at Sebastian Elementary School, Flowers said during a Monday news conference at the agency.

Cohen was charged with attempted murder. He was held Monday at the Indian River County Jail on $750,000 bond.

Hallback was charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was released Friday from the county jail on $15,000 bond.

 

Both men lived at a residence in the 9300 block of 107th Avenue, Vero Beach.

Akkua Hallback
PHOTO PROVIDED BY INDIAN RIVER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

School District of Indian River County Superintendent Dr. David Moore said both Cohen and Hallback were terminated from their teaching positions last week. Cohen and Hallback were new to the school system and began teaching for the 2021-2022 school year, Moore said.

Both teachers only taught physical education and were on a 90-day probationary period, Moore said. Moore said the school district conducted the routine background checks for both men before they were hired.

The shooting happened about 5 a.m. Oct. 10 at the Preserve at Oslo complex, located south of Oslo Road. The injured man had non-life threatening injuries.

The man was treated at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce and was later released, sheriff’s officials said.

“He is expected to make a full recovery,” Flowers said.

Sheriff’s officials released surveillance footage last week showing the men going inside the victim’s apartment. Deputies asked the public for help in identifying the men.

Tweet from Oct. 13

What happened

Both Cohen and Hallback went out drinking at two different bars in Vero Beach the night before the shooting, Flowers said. Flowers said Hallback met a woman at one of the nightspots.

Hallback and the woman left in Hallback’s red Dodge Challenger and headed back to her apartment, located off Oslo Road. It was unclear if Cohen was also in the vehicle or had been driving another vehicle to get to the complex.

Hallback and the woman both went inside her apartment. Surveillance footage captured both Hallback and Cohen going in and out of the residence over the course of a few hours.

When Cohen had to use the bathroom, he and Hallback headed back to the woman’s apartment. But, the two instead walked inside the wrong unit, which was unlocked and occupied by a couple and their three children, Flowers said.

Flowers said Cohen went to use the bathroom while Hallback got into a bed he thought had belonged to the woman. The couple who were in the bed then woke up.

“The husband woke up and said ‘what are you doing in my house?'” Flowers said.

The man began walking Hallback to the door when he saw Cohen walk out of the bathroom, Flowers said. The man escorted Hallback and Cohen out of the unit.

Flowers said Cohen and the man got into a scuffle outside of the apartment and then someone pulled out a firearm. Cohen and Hallback told deputies the resident had the gun and they wrestled it away from him, while the resident said the pair pulled out the firearm first, sheriff’s officials said.

“We don’t know who produced the gun at this point. We don’t know if it was either of the P.E. teachers or the gentleman in the house,” Flowers said.

Flowers said additional surveillance footage showed Cohen running after the resident. The two run off screen and then four gunshots could be heard in the video, Flowers said.

Video provided by Indian River County Sheriff’s Office

 

Cohen later admitted to deputies he fired toward the man, reports show.

“At any point (Hallback and Cohen) could’ve stopped and called 911. They didn’t. They fled and didn’t involve law enforcement in any way,” Flowers said.

The man was shot once in the back, Flowers said. Flowers said the man ran to a nearby apartment where residents let him call 911.

Deputies were not able to find a weapon at the scene of the shooting. But, deputies did recover several 9 mm shell casings near the breezeway of the victim’s apartment, reports show.

Sheriff’s officials also found a beanie – which Cohen was seen wearing in the surveillance footage – in a parking lot near the victim’s apartment, officials said.

Flowers said deputies also recovered two weapons while executing a search warrant at the home of Hallback and Cohen.

Deputies could not confirm if either of the weapons were the same gun used in the shooting. Flowers said deputies also seized 10.5 orange, circular pills – later identified as amphetamine and dextroamphetamie – from Hallback’s bedroom.

Deputies could not find a prescription bottle for the pills, which led to Hallback’s arrest,  reports show. Deputies said neither Hallback nor Cohen had prior criminal history.

Both men have arraignments at 8:45 a.m. Nov. 29, court records show.

Sheriff’s officials said more charges could be filed in the case, which remains under investigation. Anyone with information on the shooting should contact sheriff’s Detective Daugherty at 772-978-6163.

Callers can remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a cash reward by contacting Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-TIPS or tcwatch.org.

Photos by Kaila Jones

This story will be updated. 

 

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