$100,000 reward offered for possible Tampa area serial killer

4th victim shot dead for no apparent reason

By AP Author , Emilee Speck - Digital journalist
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TAMPA, Fla. - Police and federal agents are searching a normally quiet, working-class Tampa neighborhood for a killer after the latest shooting there -- the fourth in a little more than a month.

The 60-year-old man killed early Tuesday was shot from behind as he crossed a street.

Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said it's possible the killer lives in the neighborhood.

Residents and police have been on edge since Oct. 9, when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death. Two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was slain. And on Oct. 19, 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa was killed after taking the wrong bus home from his new job.

On Tuesday, 60-year-old Ronald Felton, an unemployed construction worker who volunteered at a food bank, was gunned down.

The chief announced Wednesday that between donations from Crime Stoppers, ATF, FBI and fundraising from local residents, the reward for information about the person they are now calling a suspect was up to $91,000. On Thursday, a local restaurateur Richard Gonzmart pledged $9,000 bringing the reward total up to $100,000.

"The support from the community and our law enforcement partners has been inspiring,'' Dugan said. "I can't thank them enough for stepping up. The reward money is truly impressive, and that's only one of the many ways that people are showing their support."

Dugan also released new video surveillance of a man leaving the area after the fourth victim was shot and killed. He said it matches the gait of the person seen leaving the scene of another of the four shootings.

The video showed a thin black man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and looking at his cellphone.

“Someone has to know who this individual is," Dugan said. "We are now calling this person a suspect and we need to know who this person is."

Dugan said dozens of detectives are currently going through video from the area for more clues.

The chief stopped short of calling the suspect a serial killer because authorities only have evidence linking two of the shootings.

"It’s clear to me that this person is able to flip a switch and go out there and murder someone," Dugan said.

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida Highway Patrol to send additional troopers to the Seminole Heights area. The officers will work with Tampa police to patrol the neighborhood, Scott said in a news release.

"Our hearts break for the victims of these crimes and their loved ones," Scott said. "Today, we are making it clear – Florida has zero tolerance for violence and crime, and we will stop at nothing to keep our communities safe.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-873-TIPS or submit tips online at crimestopperstb.com.

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