TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa police say a witness was able to provide a description of a suspect who is believed to have shot a man from behind, killing him, as he crossed a Seminole Heights street early Tuesday morning.
The crime scene is a few blocks away from a memorial that honors three people who were previously shot and killed in Seminole Heights. The murderer has not been caught.
At 4:51 a.m. on Tuesday, Tampa police officers responded to North Nebraska Ave and East McBerry Street after receiving a report of shots heard in the area.
Officers arrived on-scene within seconds and found an adult male, later identified as Ronald Felton, 60, deceased in the street. Witnesses tell police that Mr. Felton was crossing the street to meet someone when the suspect came up behind him and shot him.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said police are treating the case as if it is linked to three previous murders in Seminole Heights.
“We think by their proximity and the manner it was done, they are linked,” said Dugan during a news conference on Tuesday morning. “We’re saying it’s related to the other Seminole Heights murders.”
The suspect is described as a black male, 6′ to 6′ 2″ tall and has a thin build and a light complexion. He was armed with a large black pistol and was last seen wearing all black clothing.
Police believe the murderer is still in the area. Police want residents to stay inside their homes.
Police have set up a perimeter in an effort to catch the killer. The perimeter has been set from Osborne Avenue to Hillsborough Avenue and Nebraska Street to North 15th Street.
Officers are continuing to gather information and are searching the neighborhood as the investigation continues. “I believe this person lives in this neighborhood,” said Dugan.
Anyone within the perimeter should remain indoors until advised, to allow the investigation to proceed.
The following Seminole Heights schools have been placed on “lock-in” status as a precaution:
- Edison Elementary School
- Seminole Heights Elementary School
- Lomax Elementary School
- Lockhart Elementary School
- Young Middle School
- Ferrell Middle School
- Memorial Middle School
- Hillsborough High School
Lock-in means access to the campus is tightly controlled. Students can be dropped off, but outdoor activities will not take place.
The Hillsborough County School District will work with Tampa police throughout the day to assess what procedures will need to be in place for dismissal at these schools, as well as any bus routes or bus stops that may need to be changed.
Police are asking residents to review any surveillance cameras they may have and share it with our detectives. “Make sure your video is up and running,” said Dugan.
Anyone who may have any information, should call Tampa police at (813) 231-6130.
Any Seminole Heights resident who owns a gun should also verify its location. If it is missing, it should be reported immediately.
Nebraska Avenue remains closed to traffic in both directions between Hillsborough Avenue and Osborne Avenue. Motorists are urged to find alternate routes.
People living in Seminole Heights have been on edge after the murders of three people. All three victims, 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa and 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa were found within one mile of each other.
- On Oct. 19, victim Anthony Naiboa, 20, was walking north on 15th Street in the area of Wilder Avenue when he was shot and killed.
- On Oct. 13, victim Monica Hoffa, 32, was found in a vacant lot in the 1000 block of New Orleans Avenue. She was shot and killed.
- On Oct. 9, victim Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was waiting for a bus on North 15th Street and Frierson Avenue. Mitchell was shot and later died of the injuries he sustained. Witnesses described seeing a black man in his early 20’s, wearing a dark hooded jacket, running from the area where this shooting took place.
The reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect now stands at $41,000.
Police have released a video of a “person of interest” who was recorded running from the scene of the first murder. You can watch the video here.
Anyone with information regarding the suspect(s) is also asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477, report anonymously online or send a tip using the P3 Tips Mobile application.