Elusive Knife-Wielding Bandit Captured and Charged With a Federal Crime; Woman Also Charged

The man was captured after authorities launched a dragnet following a botched heist Tuesday night

What to Know

  • The suspect is wanted in dozens of robberies across Queens and Long Island over the last several months that may have netted him $15,000.
  • The suspect tried to rob a Queens store and broke into a Long Island home overnight , sparking a massive search that led to his capture.
  • Khalif House, 24, who has no prior arrests, was charged in the case, as was a woman seen driving a car linked to the robberies.

The suspect in a series of knifepoint robberies at more than two dozen businesses in Queens and on Long Island in a spree that attracted the attention of the FBI was charged with a federal crime on Thursday — a day after he was taken into custody in a Long Island parking lot following a pair of botched heists, police said.

Khalif House, 24, was charged Thursday under the Hobbs Act, a federal law that prohibits the obstruction of interstate commerce.

Lisette Veltri, 23, an alleged accomplice who was seen driving a gray Honda Accord near the robbery scene was also arrested and charged with Hobbs Act robbery.

House was cuffed Wednesday morning after a five-month robbery spree that targeted 27 restaurants and convenience stores near highways in Queens and on Long Island authorities said.

"It's great news for us here and in neighboring counties," said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. 

Wednesday's arrest came hours after House, of Hempstead, allegedly tried to hit a Dollar Tree and a Dunkin' Donuts in Queens Tuesday night. 

Authorities said that House allegedly first tried to rob the Dollar Tree on 14th Avenue, but was fought off by a clerk. Surveillance footage from inside the store showed a robber run up to the clerk only to be kicked for his efforts. He then ran out and got into a gray Honda Accord.

The NYPD got a call about the robbery attempt and began canvassing the area looking to see if the robbery would try another heist, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. 

After about 20 minutes, authorities say, they spotted House outside a Dunkin' Donuts nearby. They chased the man for several blocks before getting away and crossing into Nassau County.

Meanwhile, authorities said that they spotted Veltri driving the gray Honda Accord near the first robbery scene. She ducked down as soon as police spotted her and gave conflicting statements to officers, Boyce said. She later agreed to go to a police precinct and was eventually arrested and charged. 

House was spotted again a few hours later, when a homeowner in Floral Park allegedly found him sleeping on his couch and called 911. House allegedly got away and was in hiding for several hours as police combed the Nassau County town for him. 

Police knocked on doors and searched under cars. One resident said "they had the dogs, they had helicopters, they had everything!" 

Surveillance video obtained exclusively by NBC 4 New York shows the suspect running from a police officer, leaping onto the hood of a car and jumping over a fence. He ran through a parking lot and by several homes before police lost sight of him.  

Later on Wednesday morning, a woman spotted the man running through a neighborhood, and U.S. Marshals and members of the NYPD Fugitive Task Force captured him in the parking lot of 8 South Tyson Avenue in Floral Park. 

The robberies in Queens on Tuesday both fit the long-sought bandit's MO — a hooded man, knife in hand, targets a business during closing hours. Boyce said he typically doesn't flash his knife until after approaching a clerk — House wasn't able to do so before being kicked at the Dollar Tree — and that he usually stands outside his targets for several minutes before going inside, as was the case at the Dunkin' Donuts he targeted 20 minutes later. 

Authorities said that House could be responsible for at least 27 robberies dating back to February and may have been committing the crimes to feed a drug addiction. NBC New York estimates that the robberies netted the robber more than $15,000 in cash. 

Boyce and Nassau County authorities both said that House had no prior arrests for robbery or other charges that could have denoted the robbery attempts. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

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