Tampa police have arrested a 24-year-old man and will be charging him for four murders that have terrorized the city’s Seminole Heights neighborhood the past 51 days.
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, will face four counts of first-degree murder and is in custody, Police Chief Brian Dugan said during an 11 p.m. announcement.
“Tonight we are bringing to justice someone who doesn’t have the right to walk amongst us,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, praising the “amazing police work” and partnership of law enforcement agencies in cracking the case.
The spree of killings began on Oct. 9 when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot and killed in front of his home. The second victim, Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed Oct. 11. Her body was found two days afterward by a city employee in a vacant parking lot half a mile from where Mitchell died.
On Oct. 19, a third victim, Anthony Naiboa, an autistic 20-year-old who had just graduated from high school, was found shot dead about 50 feet away from the bus stop on 15th Street where Mitchell was killed.
The latest victim, Ronald Felton, 60, was found shot dead on Nov. 14 in the area of North Nebraska Avenue and East McBerry Street just moments after an officer had passed by.
Earlier Tuesday, a tip led officers to a report of an armed man at a McDonald’s restaurant in Ybor City on East 13th Avenue.
A co-worker of Donaldson alerted authorities that he had a gun in his possession. Authorities received the tip at about 2:45 p.m.
Dugan said the co-worker approached a Tampa officer on foot and reported that Donaldson had a firearm at the restaurant. Donaldson was located outside the McDonald’s and taken into custody for questioning.
Hours later, elated and relieved Tampa officials were able to announce the long-awaited arrest.
Dugan said he would provide more details about the investigation and the murder suspect on Wednesday.
The police chief said he was making the announcement of the arrest late Tuesday night to let “terrorized” Tampa residents finally “get a good night’s sleep.”