Crime

Tampa neighborhood on edge as cops hunt for possible serial killer

Police want to talk about a homicide with man on this video

Tampa police detectives need help identifying a man who might be able to help solve a homicide in which a Tampa man was gunned down near a bus stop. The shooting happened about 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, near a bus stop at the intersection of No
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Tampa police detectives need help identifying a man who might be able to help solve a homicide in which a Tampa man was gunned down near a bus stop. The shooting happened about 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, near a bus stop at the intersection of No

Tampa police are still searching for a killer, and a neighborhood remains anxious.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, gunshots rang out in the Seminole Heights neighborhood, according to WFLA Channel 8 News.

Police, who have been heavily patrolling the area in the wake of three murders within a mile of each other in the community, quickly responded to investigate.

Though WFLA reports the shooting was unrelated to the deaths of Anthony Naiboa, Monica Hoffa and Benjamin Mitchell, it shows how on-edge the community is following the murders.

As of Wednesday, police have been searching for the killer for 16 days. A grainy, black and white surveillance video of a person walking in a hooded sweatshirt near one of the crime scenes has been shown to the public with the hope that tips from the video may lead them to the shooter.

Many wonder if the deaths are the work of a serial killer.

“I have avoided that because there’s a stereotype associated with serial killers. What do I mean by that?” Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan told ABC Action News. “I hear serial killer I think of Ted Bundy. But here’s the problem. … It may not be a white person, it may not be a male; it could be a black person, maybe a female. How do we know there’s not two stepbrothers living in a house and they’re doing it together. So let’s not let labels and stereotypes box our vision in and we miss what’s right in front of us.”

Mitchell was killed on Oct. 9, Hoffa two days later and Naiboa on Oct. 19. Police believe their shootings are related but random. The only connection between them is they all rode the county bus.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, really to tell you the truth, there’s no rhyme or reason,” Sgt. Robert Fannin with the Tampa Police Department told ABC Action News.

View October Seminole Heights murders in a full screen map

Dugan has urged residents not to walk alone at night and turn on their porch lights.

“If you’re walking alone, you’re either a suspect or a potential victim,” Dugan told residents, according to ABC Action News.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tweeted Monday: “We won’t stop until this monster is found. This is personal for the men and women of (Tampa Police Department).”

But even with fear in the community, those who live there aren’t backing down.

A pumpkin festival planned for Saturday in the Hampton Trace community is expected to go on, according to FOX 13.

At a community meeting with law enforcement and city officials Monday, several people were seen wearing white ribbons in memory of the three lives lost since Oct. 9, FOX 13 reported.

“It’s a little way to show unity and to show people that we are always thinking about this,” Brian Frey, president of the Hampton Terrace Community Association, told FOX 13.

Frey and Susan Lane, or “NaNa Susan” as she’s known in the community where she’s lived her whole life, put the ribbons together and passed them out at the meeting.

Each of the ribbons has the letters “M,” “A,” and “B” on them, standing for the first names of the three victims, according to FOX 13.

Crime Stoppers and ATF are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the cases. Anyone with any information and wanting to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), or make a report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com.

Sara Nealeigh: 941-745-7081, @saranealeigh

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