A memorial for Benjamin Mitchell, who was killed on Oct. 9, 2017 in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa, the first of four recent killings suspected to be tied to a serial killer
Gabriella Angotti-Jones—The Tampa Bay Times/AP
By Melissa Chan
November 14, 2017

Authorities believe a serial killer in Tampa may have struck again after a fourth person was found shot and killed Tuesday in a manner similar to three other victims last month.

Police said Ronald Felton, 60, was crossing the street in the Florida city’s Seminole Heights neighborhood shortly before 5 a.m. when a suspect snuck up behind him and fatally shot him.

It’s the fourth unexplained deadly shooting in the area since Oct. 9 when Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was gunned down. Authorities say the four incidents appear to be linked.

“We are treating as though it is related until we can rule otherwise,” Brian Dugan, the interim chief of the Tampa Police Department, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Here’s what to know about the string of shootings in Tampa:

Who is the suspect?

Police have not yet named any leads, but they have released a description of the suspect, who they say is a thin black man, who is about 6 feet tall. Officials believe the suspect lives in the neighborhood. His motive is unclear. The suspect was last seen wearing all-black clothing and a black baseball cap, police said.

What are the similarities between the shootings?

None of the first three victims knew each other, and they were all fatally shot within a 1-mile radius in Seminole Heights in October, according to the Associated Press. All three had just gotten off a bus and were alone on the street. Motives for each of the murders were unclear, and none of the victims were robbed, the AP reports.

After Mitchell was shot dead, a second victim — 32-year-old Monica Hoffa — was killed on the morning of Oct. 13, police said. Then Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed on Oct. 19 about 8 p.m. Naiboa had taken the wrong bus home from his new job, according to the AP.

Police said Felton was alone but crossing the street to meet someone when he was fatally shot. Felton, who was unemployed, volunteered two days a week at a food bank near where he was killed Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“Based upon what we know and what’s been going on, that’s why I’m comfortable saying it’s related,” said Dugan, the police chief.

What are authorities doing to find the suspect?

Authorities set up a perimeter and systemically combed through the area after Felton’s body was found early Tuesday.

“We will hunt this person down until we find them,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said during Tuesday’s news conference. “We need to catch this killer before we have to notify one more family that one of their loved ones is dead.”

Last month, Buckhorn demanded police find the suspect responsible for the three previous shootings. “Bring his head to me,” he said.

Authorities have also issued a $35,000 reward for information on the cases.

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