Police in Tampa, Fla., have apprehended a man believed to be connected to four killings that have raised fears of a serial killer in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.
According to WTSP-TV, 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is being charged with four counts of first-degree murder. Donaldson was taken into custody Tuesday after officers responded to a tip about a gun at a McDonald’s in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood.
The terrifying killing spree started Oct. 9 with the shooting death of 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell. Just two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was also shot and killed. Anthony Naiboa, 20, was the next victim, gunned down on Oct. 19. On Nov. 14, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was killed.
As the news station notes, all of the victims killed in October were either getting on or off a city bus, or were at a bus stop, when they were shot and killed. Police said the killings that happened so close to one another weren’t believed to be robberies and could have been the work of a serial killer.
Donaldson worked at the Ybor City McDonald’s, and the franchise eatery’s owner, J.C. Prado, confirmed that he and his employees were cooperating with authorities.
It was actually one of Donaldson’s co-workers who tipped off police about a gun in the workplace, a weapon that authorities later connected to the killings. According to Fox News, Donaldson handed his co-worker a McDonald’s bag containing a loaded .40-caliber Glock and allegedly told the co-worker that he wanted to leave the state.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which analyzed the fired cartridge casings found in all four killing scenes, confirmed that the casings were fired from the same weapon: a Glock .40-caliber handgun, an affidavit notes.
“I think when I found out there was a gun and when I found out his description, it’s a little more than what we had,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said. “I kind of felt we were going to get a break.”
AT&T phone records also showed that Donaldson’s cellphone was in the area of three of the homicides, according to the affidavit.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn praised police for their work on the case.
“Tonight is the beginning of when justice will be served,” he said. “And then the process will occur when this individual rots in hell.”