Last month, Tampa was holding its breath over fears that a serial killer is on the loose. But as many in the Seminole Heights neighborhood were slowly starting to exhale, another suspicious death has hearts racing again, and authorities are going door-to-door. The crime may be unrelated to the three October killings that all took place in a half-mile radius, but the timing and location have investigators on high alert.
Before dawn on Tuesday, a 60-year-old man was shot dead outside the food bank where he volunteered, and witnesses say a thin black man is the prime suspect. Ronald Felton, the victim, was shot from behind in the street. He was an unemployed construction worker who frequented the church and regularly worked with its food bank during graveyard hours. All of last month’s victims were also killed while they were alone, each after getting off public transit.
“Right now, we are treating it as related until we can rule otherwise,” said interim Police Chief Brian Dugan. He’s asking area residents to “pay attention,” as the killer is likely to be one of their own neighbors. Thus far, all the murders under investigation have taken place late at night, so the fact this was was early in the morning is a slight difference that could hint at the killer’s motives or movements.
Though Seminole Heights has long been a blue-collar neighborhood, it’s not known for being particularly crime ridden. Neighbors have expressed shock and dismay at the sudden violence. They aren’t the only ones who wonder why they have been especially targeted by the unknown killer. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told reporters this morning, “This is personal. This has got to stop. We need to catch this killer before we have to notify one more family that one of their loved ones is dead.”