A suspected serial killer shot and killed a man as he crossed a street early Tuesday morning in Tampa, Florida, police say, the fourth such murder in little more than a month.
“We think by their proximity and the manner it was done, they are linked,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a Tuesday news conference. “We’re saying it’s related to the other Seminole Heights murders.”
The killings in the central Tampa neighborhood appear to be random, police said.
The latest victim, Ronald Felton, 60, was shot from behind as he crossed a street around 5 a.m. on Tuesday. He died at the scene.
Before Felton’s homicide, police said they suspected the so-called Seminole Heights Slayer had shot to death Benjamin Mitchell, 22, Monica Hoffa, 32, and Anthony Naiboa, 20.
Mitchell, the first victim, was killed on Oct. 9 while waiting at a bus stop near the intersection of North 15th Street and East Frierson Avenue.
On Oct. 13, Hoffa’s body was found in a field near the intersection of East New Orleans Avenue and North 10th Street. Police said she may have been shot one or two days before.
Naiboa was killed Oct. 19. Authorities said the man, who was autistic, had accidentally taken the wrong bus when returning home from work. His body was found on North 15th Street, roughly 200 yards from where he’d exited the bus.
Felton, who was reportedly on his way to meet with the pastor of a local church, was slain just blocks from where residents had erected a memorial to the previous victims. His death may offer more clues in the murders, since a witness was able to provide police with a description of a suspect.
The suspect is described as a black male, 6′ to 6′ 2″ tall with a thin build and a light complexion. He was wearing black clothing and was armed with a large black pistol, police said. The description appears to match a person of interest that was captured on surveillance video released by police late last month.
Meanwhile, along the streets where police say the serial killer has been hunting victims, schools were put on “lock-in” status, meaning students were unable to leave the buildings for activities until police finished scouring the area for clues.
“We will hunt this person down until we find them,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Anyone with information on the killings is asked to call Tampa police at 813-231-6130 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477. A $41,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the slayings.