Police Warn Florida Residents That Serial Killer May Be at Large
Florida police are warning residents in the Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights to be on high alert Monday, Oct. 23, after three people died in the area from recent shootings.
Police believe the deaths could be caused by a serial killer, and are warning residents not to walk out by themselves at night, CBS News reported.
As of this writing there appeared to be no definite links between the three deaths.
However, Tampa Police Chief Brian Duga noted the close proximity and time frame of the shootings. But he is refraining from calling the unknown suspect a serial killer.
“I’m very cautious of that term because we don’t have enough information,” Duga told CBS. “You know, we don’t know. It could be multiple people.”
On Sunday, Oct. 22, residents in the Tampa neighborhood attended a candlelight vigil and walked in remembrance of the three who had been shot and killed in the last two weeks.
“I’m not too sure if I feel safe or not,” resident Maria Rodriguez told CBS. “Right now, just overwhelmed.”
The remembrance march was led by victims’ families, including the father and stepmother of 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa’s father said his son was targeted because he had autism.
“I just hope that someone just realizes the pain that our family, Monica’s family, as well as Benjamin’s family is going through, because justice has to prevail,” Rodriguez, Naiboa’s stepmother, said. “We own these streets! We own this community. And there has to be justice, justice has to prevail.”
On the night of the first murder, an individual can be seen on surveillance video walking through the neighborhood wearing a hoodie. Police said they are still looking for the person.
“We have no leads,” Dugan told CBS over the weekend. “We have no motive.”
However, police do see a pattern in the three victims’ deaths, all strangers but shot in the same area and in the same time frame.
On Oct. 13, Monica Hoffa’s body was found in a vacant lot. Just four days earlier, Benjamin Mitchell’s body was found less than a mile away, CBS reported.
The latest victim, Naiboa’s body was found on Thursday. He was gunned down after taking the wrong bus home from work about 1,000 yards from where Mitchell was killed.
At Sunday’s vigil, Naiboa’s father, Casimir, pointed to a part of the ground: “He was right on this floor, right here. They killed him just for nothing. Like he’s not a human, like he’s nothing.”
Patrol officers are walking the streets, in the hope of finding the killer. The department is set to hold a community meeting with residents Monday evening to discuss the murders and how to stay safe.
Tampa has a population of 377,165, according to 2016 data from the United States Census Bureau.