Police: Tampa shooting death may be connected to 3 other murders

LIVE NOW: Tampa police provide updates on Monday's fatal shooting that may be connected to three other murders. Read more: http://bit.ly/2zGGDFL

Posted by WINK News on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 

TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) Until evidence says otherwise, Tampa police are relating the Tuesday morning shooting death in the Seminole Heights neighborhood to the three earlier October murders.

Responding officers found a man dead before 5 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, near North Nebraska Avenue near East McBerry Street.

MORE: Tampa police say 3 killings in 11 days are linked

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan identified the victim as 60-year-old Ronald Felton. It’s believed Felton was crossing the street to meet with someone when a suspect came up from behind and shot him, Dugan said.

“You walk out your door and somebody just shoots you for no reason?” said Felton’s sister, Tina Felton. “All he was doing was helping the homeless. He wasn’t hurting nobody.”

Suspect information is limited: a thin black male, dressed in all black and wearing a black baseball cap.

“We need everyone to pay attention to what’s going on in this neighborhood. … I can only imagine how they are on edge right now, having a fourth murder.”

The first responding sergeant got to the scene in “about a minute,” Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

“If you own a gun and it’s in your home, I want you to go to your home right now … and find out if your gun is still there,” Dugan said. “If it’s not, we need you to call us.”

Nebraska Avenue is closed between Hillsborough and Osborne avenues because of the investigation. Drivers are asked to find another route.

Community outreach, patrols after October murders

The Seminole Heights neighborhood has seen an increased police activity since the Oct. 9 shooting death of 22-year-old Benjamin Edward Mitchell. He was killed at a bus stop along N. 15th Street and East Frierson Avenue.

No more than a week later, police announced they found the body of 32-year-old Monica Caridad Hoffa near the intersection of East New Orleans Avenue and North 10th Street.

A third victim, 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa, was killed on Oct. 19. Tampa police said the took the wrong bus home when he was shot to death.

MORE: Tampa residents warned serial killer may be at large

Naiboa’s father, Casimar Naiboa, criticized police for their inability to catch the killer.

“They blew it again,” Naiboa. “He got away.”

Dugan urged people in the neighborhood not to go outside alone as he addressed concerns Tuesday night at a community meeting:

Tampa police and elected leaders hit the sidewalks to show their commitment to the neighborhood not long after the first murder. To help quell families’ fears during Halloween, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and then-interim Chief Dugan walked with children during trick-or-treating.

“It appears whoever is doing this is able to sneak up on them, and then vanish under the cover of darkness,” Dugan said. “It’s wrecking people’s lives. It’s wrecking people’s families.”

There remains a $41,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the October killings.

Timeline

Here’s a timeline of the three murders:

Oct. 9 – Police find Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22, killed at a bus stop along North 15th Street and East Frierson Avenue.

Oct. 13 – Tampa police said a gunman shot and killed Monica Caridad Hoffa. Officers found Hoffa’s body early the morning of Friday, Oct. 13 near the intersection of East New Orleans Avenue and North 10th Street.

Hoffa, 32, was shot on Oct. 11, according to Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.

Police also released a video asking the public for help identifying a man who might be able to solve Mitchell’s case.

Oct. 17 – Tampa police cited “circumstances” and proximity of the killings as to why investigators believe Mitchell and Hoffa’s cases are related. The two locations of the killing are within 10 blocks or about a half mile of each other in the southeast Seminole Heights area.

Oct. 19 – Tampa police respond to a third victim killed in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Police believe the murder is related to the murders of Mitchell and Hoffa.

Oct. 20 – The Tampa Police Department identified Anthony Naiboa as the third victim killed in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Naiboa, 20, took the wrong bus home when he was shot to death the day before around 8 p.m. Thursday.

Oct. 21 – Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the Seminole Heights killings.

Oct. 22 – Hundreds of people joined together in a vigil to honor the victims by quietly walking with candles in hand to the locations where police found each victim.

Oct. 23 – Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, city leaders and Seminole Heights residents gathered to discuss the recent murders. Some business owners near the Seminole Heights area worry recent progress could be slowed or totally upended by the murders.

Oct. 25 – Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, once again, called on police officers to hunt down the “son of a b***h” who investigators believe is responsible for the random killings of three people in Seminole Heights.

“This guy is not going to win,” Buckhorn said while addressing officers during a special roll call Wednesday afternoon in Giddens Park. “He’s not taking over this neighborhood. You guys go hunt him down and bring his head to me.”

Several Seminole Heights businesses also held events to get people together and comfortable about being out and about in the community.

Oct. 26 – The message from Tampa police is clear: “We need names, not speculation” in figuring out who committed three murders in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan released new footage Thursday afternoon he says is related to the shooting deaths. A person is seen in the video taken on the night of the first murder on Oct. 9 — the murder of Benjamin Mitchell.

Oct. 31 – Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Police Chief Brian Dugan trick-or-treated in the Seminole Heights neighborhood for Halloween.

Nov. 9 –  Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Seminole Heights neighborhood killings could be eligible for an ever-increasing reward.

It now stands at $41,000 as investigators continue to work to figure out who killed three people in October, Tampa Police Department Eddy Durkin said.

Nov. 14 – Until evidence says otherwise, Tampa police are relating the Tuesday, Nov. 14 shooting death in the Seminole Heights neighborhood to the three earlier October murders.

Responding officers found a man dead near North Nebraska Avenue near East McBerry Street.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan identified the victim as 60-year-old Ronald Felton. It’s believed Felton was crossing the street to meet with someone when a suspect came up from behind and shot him, Dugan said.

Reporter:Brooke Shafer

Oliver Redsten