On Tuesday night a man accused of committing a series of fatal shooting has been taken into custody with Tampa police confident the suspect is guilty. The shootings first occurred in early October and had left residents of the quiet Seminole Heights district in shock.
Over the last 7 weeks a total of 4 people had been shot dead. The 24 year old suspect; Howell Emanuel Donaldson III was taken into custody after a McDonald’s employee phoned police stating that he had brought a firearm into the restaurant.
The restaurant was located only 2 miles south of where the shootings had taken place and police acted quickly to arrest the suspect. Donaldson has been charged with 4 counts of murder with police assuring the press that he was most likely the person responsible for the shootings.
Donaldson had apparently been working that the McDonald’s restaurant and passed the firearm to his co-worker inside of a paper bag. After the employee contacted police the firearm was said to be connected to the shooting via an examination of shell casings.
Once taken into custody Donaldson admitted that the firearm belonged to him but not to any charges of murder. Police remain frustrated that they have not been able to establish a motive for the killings.
Fear gripped the Seminole Heights community as whispers circulated that a serial killer was active in the area. The 4 victims had no apparent connection to Donaldson or each other. The only connecting factor was that all murders happened within a small radius of each other.
The seemingly random and arbitrary nature of the killings has the victim’s families even more distraught as there was no clear reason, wrong or right for the death of their loved ones.
With 3 murders occurring within 11 days and the 4th only 26 days later, residents of the Florida community had begun to stay indoors for fear of being targeted next. Police were quick to announce the arrest of Donaldson, hoping to calm the community and regain a sense of normality.
While police are still searching through and categorising items belonging to Donaldson, a key piece of evidence is a hoodie matching one seen in CCTV footage of the first murder. If Donaldson is found guilty the Tampa mayor has pushed for the death penalty to be applied.
With the reward for information on the murders reaching $35,000 USD and police resources being exhausted during the investigation, Tampa residents are relieved that the murderer has likely been finally apprehended.