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24-year-old man arrested in Tampa serial killings

30 November 2017, 02:07 | Myrtle Vega

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The manager alerted an on duty police officer dining inside the restaurant at the time, who called for back up.

"He didn't think much of it, just thought it was odd there was a gun in there and gave the bag to a police officer who was in the McDonald's", said Dugan.

Donaldson was detained with a gun at a McDonald's restaurant in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood.

Dugan said the department had received more than 5,000 tips.

The employee said the co-worker handed a manager a gun and left to visit an Amscot. A police report said the gun matched shell casings in three of the four homicides.

"To hear that a cell phone played a key part in this guy's arrest, oh no not surprising, not surprising at all", said digital forensic analyst Vincent Risalvato.

"You know, 51 days ago, I said this was a struggle between good and evil", said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn during Tuesday's news conference.

Tampa Police Brian Dugan says Howell Emanuel Donaldson will be charged with four counts of first degree murder in connection with deaths in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.

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Donaldson was cooperative when he spoke with police and admitted he owned the gun, but never offered a motive. "That is what we needed", said Dugan.

Residents and police had been on edge since October 9, when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death. "Well tonight, goodness has won ... tonight is the beginning of when justice will be served".

The murder of 60-year-old Ronald Felton on November 14 as he crossed the street to the food bank where he volunteered twice a week, however, spurred new leads in the case - including additional video footage of a possible suspect.

Donaldson graduated from St. John's University this year.

Robert Hoffa spoke about his niece Monica, the second victim in the string of murders.

It's not clear why Donaldson picked the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa to choose his targets, but Dugan said he always believed the killer was familiar with that neighborhood.

New York City police say they'd like to examine ballistics results of the gun used in the Florida killings to see if the weapon matches any unsolved crimes in New York.



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