PALM COAST, Fla. – Two arrests were made Friday in connection with the December 2021 shooting death of a 23-year-old man in Palm Coast, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Kwentel Moultrie, 23, and Taylor Manjarres, 20, face armed burglary and second-degree murder charges that stemmed from their involvement in a “drug rip-off that ended in a shootout,” deputies said. The sheriff’s office said Zaire T. Roberts was killed in a shooting at a home in Palm Coast on Dec. 29, 2021.
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In a seven-week investigation, detectives found Roberts, Moultrie and Manjarres had allegedly planned to invade a drug dealer’s home on Regent Lane, according to a news release.
As Manjarres spoke with and distracted the dealer, Moultrie and Roberts made their way inside where Roberts was confronted by the dealer, leading to an exchange of gunfire, deputies said. Roberts shot the dealer twice — once in the leg and once in the hip — before they returned fire, fatally shooting Roberts while Moultrie and Manjarres fled, the release said.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said during a news conference Monday the victim initially withheld many facts and “there was a stand your ground component” that complicated the investigation.
“This was a very difficult case, made more difficult because the home invasion drug dealer victim — and I really hate to call him a victim because if he wasn’t a drug dealer, this home invasion would have never occurred — was not immediately forthcoming with detectives, probably because he didn’t want us to know what his illegal occupation was,” Staly said.
The homeowner is not in custody and will not be charged in the shooting, according to the sheriff.
The sheriff addressed information regarding the death of Roberts initially being withheld and called it an investigative tactic “to keep the suspects and their friends guessing and active on social media platforms.”
“We knew that the two suspects that we arrested had fled, but they weren’t 100% sure whether Roberts was alive or dead, or did he shoot the drug dealer victim, and so we wanted to keep them communicating, keep them speculating. We want to see who they were talking to all on social media and let the tips come in,” he said.