2 Florida teachers accused of entering wrong apartment, shooting resident

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Two former college athletes who had recently taken physical education jobs at South Florida schools were fired after their arrests in connection with a shooting that wounded a man at a Vero Beach apartment, authorities said.

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Darius Tyonne Cohen, 26, of Clewiston, was charged with attempted murder, according to Indian River County Sheriff’s Office online booking records. Akkua Jamel Hallback, 26, of Moore Haven, is facing a misdemeanor drug charge, records show.

Neither man had a criminal history, according to WPEC.

Cohen taught at Indian River Academy in Vero Beach, while Hallback was a teacher at Sebastian Elementary School, TCPalm.com reported. According to college records, Hallback played football and ran track at the University of West Alabama, while Cohen played football at Central Connecticut State University, according to TCPalm.com.

Investigators said both men were caught on a surveillance camera on Oct. 10 walking into the wrong apartment, WPEC reported. At about 4:30 a.m. EDT, a 30-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound to his back outside a building at the Preserve at Oslo, according to TCPalm.com.

At a news conference on Monday, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said the shooting occurred after the men spent a night out in Vero Beach and were returning to a woman’s apartment.

According to an arrest affidavit, the victim said he and his family were asleep when he saw an intruder in his bedroom and Cohen in one of the bathrooms.

One of the teachers mistakenly climbed into bed and the other teacher went to the bathroom before the male occupant of the house escorted them out, according to The Associated Press.

“The combined story from the three of these guys -- at some point when they get out into the parking lot, a scuffle ensues,” Flowers said during the news conference. “At some point, somebody produces a gun. We don’t who produced the gun at this point.

“He (Cohen) admitted to the shooting,” Flowers said. “His side of the story was that they were struggling over the gun and it went off.”

Online records show Cohen remains in the Indian River County Jail on $750,000 bail. Hallback was released on $15,000 bail Friday.

Both men were fired as teachers, TCPalm.com reported.

“You go through a background check,” Indian River County Superintendent David Moore told WPEC. “As mentioned, the two of them cleared a background check. You also go through a drug screening. So they both went through the appropriate process. Unfortunately, they made some really bad decisions.”


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