FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) --Police have a suspect in custody in connection with a spree of more than two dozen store robberies across Queens and Long Island, captured after a manhunt in Floral Park Wednesday morning.
The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Khalif House, of West Hempstead, is believed to be the man responsible for 25 robberies, mostly at fast food businesses and convenience stores, since May. In all of them, he allegedly wielded a large butcher's knife and threatened the clerk before fleeing with whatever he could get.
In the most recent incident, police say he attempted to rob a Dollar Tree on 14th Avenue in Whitestone around 10:13 p.m. as it closed for the evening. The suspect failed to get anything, and he was identified following the incident after a woman was taken in for questioning in connection to the investigation.
Later, one of the teams spotted a person who fit the general description, and detectives tracked down a car he was believed to have been using. His ID was distributed to law enforcement officers, but the big break came early in the morning. Authorities say he broke into two homes in Floral Park overnight, and in one case was confronted by a homeowner who walked downstairs to find House sleeping on his couch.
"I said, 'What the hell are you doing here?' and he took off," homeowner Bill O'Keefe said.
That prompted the massive manhunt, which lasted hours and involved local police, Nassau County police and NYPD officers who scoured yards and the tiny spaces in between homes.
"It was a long, long search involving dogs, helicopters, and a lot of personnel," Floral Park Police Commissioner Stephen McAllister said.
They finally spotted the man they were looking for, but he managed to escape through a hole in a fence and extend the manhunt a bit longer. Again, they were aided by the watchful eyes of residents.
"I was surprised that guy came out of no where between the two houses and walked, like nothing," neighbor Dominick Deoliveira said.
Eventually, House was taken into custody.
Eight of the robberies he is accused of occurred in Queens, in addition to 17 on Long Island. Luckily, no injuries were reported in any of the incidents.