Florida police are struggling to contain the rampant violence in Seminole Heights – an area of Tampa, riddled with crime. A recent spate of violence has been attributed to a serial killer operating in the area.
Near Seminole Heights Church, witnesses observed a man shoot the latest victim three times in the back last Tuesday, just blocks away from a Seminole Heights memorial, commemorating victims of the rampant gang violence there.
The reward, now in place, for information leading to the arrest of a suspect stands at $41,000.
On 4:51 a.m., Tuesday, Tampa police officers responded to the North Nebraska Ave and East McBerry Street after having received a report of shots fired.
Officers had rushed to the scene to find the dead body of 60-year-old Ronald Felton. The witnesses told police that Mr. Felton was just crossing the street alone, when the suspect ran up and shot him from behind – he was also shot in the back of the head.
The suspect is described as a black male.
The Chief of Tampa Police Chief, Brian Dugan, said that the police are treating the case as if it is linked to the 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. “We’re saying it’s related to the other Seminole Heights murders.”
Police have set up a perimeter too in an effort to catch the suspected serial killer. The perimeter has been set from the Osborne Avenue to Hillsborough Avenue and Nebraska Street to North 15th Street.
As the officers continue to gather more information and are searching the neighborhood, the investigation continues forward. “I believe this person lives in this neighborhood,” said Dugan.
Eight schools in Seminole Heights were placed on lock-in as a precautionary measure for part of the morning on Tuesday. The lock-ins were later lifted for all these schools around 10 a.m. with the exception of Edison Elementary School which remains in lock-in status. The lock-in means access to the campus is highly controlled. Students could be dropped off but all the other outdoor activities would not be taking place.
Police are also asking the residents to review any surveillance cameras that they might have installed and share it with the detectives on duty. “Make sure your video is up and running,” said Dugan.