LOWELL -- A 35-year-old Lowell man wanted in connection with an armed home invasion in December that left one man dead has been arrested in New York and could be returned to Massachusetts to face charges as soon as this week.
Tarrane Tillis, 35, of Lowell, was arrested in Utica, N.Y. on Feb. 9 and charged with being a fugitive from justice, according to reports from local media reports.
At a court hearing the next day, Tillis waived a rendition hearing and is being held in custody until Massachusetts officials pick him up and bring him back to Lowell, possibly as soon as the end of this week. Lowell police say they have a deadline of 30 days after the suspect waives a rendition hearing to pick him up.
According to officials, Utica police were contacted Sunday by investigators in Lowell. Officers learned the man was at a home on Roberts Street. Officers from the warrants unit and members of the U.S. Marshal's NY/NJ Fugitive Regional Task Force took Tillis into custody.
In a major break in the Dec. 18, shooting death of Christiano Diaz-Arias on Second Street, two New Hampshire men were ordered held on high cash bail last week in Lowell District Court, charged with armed home invasion in an alleged "drug rip" that turned deadly.
Three Lowell men, including the alleged shooter, have also been charged but not yet arraigned in connection with the slaying of Diaz-Arias, of 49 Second St., Lowell.
In Lowell District Court last week, Jonathan Rivera, 23, of Nashua, N.H., and Donte Okowuga, 34, of Merrimack, N.H., pleaded not guilty to charges of armed home invasion in the Dec. 18 murder.
Judge Thomas Brennan ordered Rivera held on $100,000 cash bail with a GPS-monitoring device and 24-hour lockdown if he should post bail. Okowuga, who was also being arraigned on drug-trafficking charges in an unrelated incident, was ordered held on $200,000 cash bail.
Rivera is scheduled for a probable-cause hearing on March 5, while Okowuga's probable-cause hearing is the following day.
The alleged shooter, Roberto Lopez-Ortiz, 31, along with Kent A. Grays, 42, and Tarrane Tillis, 35, all of Lowell, are also facing armed home-invasion charges, but have not yet been arraigned. Prosecutor Marisa Tagliareni said charges could be upgraded for the other defendants.
Lopez-Ortiz is in custody in Nashua, N.H. Grays is already being held without bail on an unrelated matter.
In court documents, Lowell police say they responded about 8 p.m. on Dec. 18, to 49 Second St. on the third floor for a report of shots fired. Upon their arrival, police found the victim dead in the third-floor hallway.
He was shot in the head and the chest. During the investigation, a witness told police that on the day of the killing, the group decided to rob a drug dealer, Tagliareni said.
Grays, who was the victim's neighbor, was at home telling the group when Diaz-Arias was home, setting up the robbery via phone.
The three men, armed with a gun, drove to Second Street and entered the building. Okowuga, Tillis and Lopez-Ortiz went into the victim's apartment, while Rivera told police he stayed in the hallway.
Rivera allegedly told police there was an altercation inside the apartment. Okowuga and Tillis allegedly ran out of the apartment with Diaz-Arias in hot pursuit. As Diaz-Arias approached him in the hallway, Rivera allegedly hit him in the side of the head and then Rivera ran from the building with Okowuga and Tillis.
As the three men stood outside the building, they heard three gunshots from inside the building, Rivera told police. Rivera said they were about to drive away when Lopez-Ortiz ran up to the car and got into the backseat. Lopez was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his hand.
Lopez-Ortiz allegedly told the people in the car that he killed the guy and that he got shot in the hand during the struggle, police said. Lopez-Ortiz then handed the gun to Tillis, who wiped it down and gave it to Okowuga, police allege.
Rivera told police they drove to his girlfriend's house where Okowuga told them to keep their mouths shut as he dropped them off. Rivera told police he made arrangements to get a ride for Lopez to Elliot Hospital in Manchester to get his hand treated.
Manchester, N.H., police confirmed that during the early-morning hours of Dec. 19, Lopez -Ortiz was treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound to his left hand.
Before Lowell police interviewed Rivera, they went to his home to bring him to the station. Police say Rivera allegedly gave his girlfriend and his children a "formal goodbye" and told them he would be going away for a long time.