It has taken Tampa police almost two months to find and arrest a serial killer that was running loose in the city’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.
Four people were murdered by Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, in what seemed to be unconnected cases. Authorities would soon find that there was a link to all of them and probably the killer’s biggest mistake.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan spoke to reporters Tuesday night.
“The real goal is to let the people of Seminole Heights be able to get a good night’s sleep,” Dugan said late Tuesday. “It’s been 51 days that they’ve been terrorized in their neighborhood and it is about letting these families know that we’re going to bring this person to justice, and letting this neighborhood get some rest.”
Via CNN: The shootings started in Seminole Heights in early October and targeted citizens doing ordinary tasks like waiting at a bus stop or crossing the street. The four seemingly unconnected victims in Seminole Heights were each killed — but not robbed — while walking alone at night within a half-mile area, police said.
In the past month, officers swarmed the tree-lined neighborhood, advising residents not to go outside alone, to be alert and keep their porch lights on. Some residents stopped walking their dogs, running outside, going for walks or waiting for the bus alone, saying they no longer felt safe.
On Tuesday, police said they received a tip from a McDonald’s employee around 2:40 p.m. about a man who had a gun in a bag at the fast food restaurant. The McDonalds is about two to three miles from where the killings took place.
Donaldson asked his manager to store his 9mm handgun for him, which was loaded when he handed it over. The Tampa Bay Times reported the manager wasn’t sure what to do with the weapon and a female employee told him to report this incident to an officer whom was doing paperwork in the restaurant at the time.
When the manager did this, that’s when things got interesting. The officer immediately called for back-up, confiscated the weapon and detained Donaldson so they could learn more about the gun.
Looking for a connection with the recent shootings this is what Chief Dugan had to say:
“We’ve had other guns, but we knew this was the one,” he said. “Now the work begins to shore up the case and get a full prosecution.”
Chief Dugan affirmed that the weapon was used in all four of the Seminole Heights killings. Donaldson admitted to owning the firearm and has been cooperating with the police.
He has yet to reveal why he killed those 4 people, Dugan said.
Chief Dugan also said Donaldson ‘seemed “fine” and knew where he was and what was going on during his interview with police,’ reports CNN.
“He was friendly and nice to the cops, but he didn’t give us anything, tell us why he was doing it or anything like that,” Dugan said.