Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Tampa ‘serial killer’ who ‘gunned down four random victims and terrorized a neighborhood for almost a month’
Florida will seek death penalty against Howell Emanuel Donaldson III
24-year-old Donaldson has been charged with four counts of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, 22, Monica Hoffa, 32, Anthony Naiboa, 20, and Ronald Felton, 60
Police got a tip from a McDonald’s staffer last November about a man with a gun
The attacks began on October 9 when Benjamin Mitchell was shot dead
Two days later Monica Hoffa was shot, and October 19 Anthony Naiboa was killed
The next attack didn’t happen until November 14 when Ronald Felton was shot
Howell Donaldson’s mugshot
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a 24-year-old man suspected of randomly killing four people and terrorizing a Florida neighborhood for several months.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced the decision during a Tuesday morning news conference in Tampa.
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
He was arrested November 28 after handing a bag containing a handgun to a co-worker at a McDonald’s restaurant near the Seminole Heights neighborhood where the victims were apparently randomly picked off as they walked.
Prosecutors have said the ballistics tests show the weapon was used in the shootings.
‘A prosecutor’s pursuit of justice should be tempered by mercy, but some crimes are so unconscionable, so hard to fathom that we must leave mercy to a higher power and instead focus on achieving justice for the victims and their families,’ Warren said.
Howell Donaldson in white arrives for booking at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa on November 29
Donaldson, who goes by Trai because it is a family name, is accused of fatally shooting Benjamin Mitchell, 22, Monica Hoffa, 32, Anthony Naiboa, 20, Ronald Felton, 60 in waht Warren described as killing for people in a ‘cold, calculating and premeditated manner.’
He was arrested and is being held at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa since November 29
Some families of the victims told prosecutors they favored the death penalty for Donaldson while others preferred a life sentence, Warren said.
In the end, he said, all of the families were OK with proceeding with the death sentence.
‘The death penalty is for the worst of the worst, crimes that are far more egregious than the typical murder, and that’s exactly what we have here.’
Gail Rogers, the suspect’s co-worker at the McDonald’s, told The Tampa Bay Times last November that Donaldson walked into the restaurant in his work uniform and asked the manager to hold his loaded 9mm handgun.
Donaldson makes his first court appearance in front of Judge Margaret Taylor at the Hillsborough County Courthouse Annex in Tampa on Nov 30, 2017.
He then walked to Amscot to get a payday loan, and the manager had Rogers alert a female officer in the McDonald’s about what had just happened. That officer then called for backup.
Rogers told the Times that Donaldson had worked at that McDonald’s for about four months, and said he arrived at work driving a red Ford Mustang.
The car is believed to belong to his father.
Donaldson was born in North Carolina but spent most of his life in Tampa before going to play college basketball at St John’s University in New York.
Police Chief Brian Dugan told reporters in November that a man was brought in for questioning in connection with the murders.
The killings started on October 9 in the city’s Seminole Height’s neighborhood.
The face of a killer: Howell Donaldson was arrested after police received a tip from a McDonald’s staff member Tuesday afternoon about a man with a gun
Howell Donaldson was arrested after police received a tip from a McDonald’s staff member Tuesday afternoon about a man with a gun and brought him in for questioning
Police connected the killings based on their methodology – meaning they were all killed in the same way, which is common for serial killers.
Each of the four victims was killed but not robbed while they walked along at night within a half-mile area of the Seminole Heights neighborhood.
The victims, though, didn’t have any common similarities based on race, age or occupation.
The first attack happened on October 9 when Benjamin Mitchell was shot dead after getting off a bus in the neighborhood at night.
Two days after Mitchell, 22, was shot, Monica Hoffa, 32, was gunned down.
And on October 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot after taking the wrong bus home from his new job.
The first attack happened on October 9 when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell [left], was shot dead after getting off a bus in the neighborhood at night. Two days after Mitchell was shot, Monica Hoffa, [right] 32, was gunned down
Going for death penalty on Donaldson case. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced the decision to seek capital punishment against Donaldson Tuesday morning
Each of the four victims was killed but not robbed while they walked along at night within a half-mile are of the Seminole Heights neighborhood
Police patrolling nearby heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene to find Naiboa dead.
Then in late October Dugan released a blurry video of a suspect, who can be seen wearing a hooded jacket and walking down a street near one of the shootings.
He then released another video on November 16 of who he believes is the same man, who was present near the fatal shooting of Ronald Felton. Felton was the last of the four victims to be killed, and was shot on November 14.
Police said the victim, a construction worker and father of three adult children, was crossing at Nebraska and Wilder when a man dressed in all black came up behind him and shot him.
Dugan described the suspect in the video as a thin light-skinned black man between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches.
On Nov 15, one day after Ronald Felton’s killing, Tampa Police release new surveillance video of the person wanted for questioning. Rewards for information leading to the shooter’s arrest climb to $100,000.
It yields dividends because at t an 11 p.m. news conference on Nov 28, Chief Dugan and Mayor Buckhorn announce police will arrest 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III on four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Seminole Heights slayings.