TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Police have arrested a man and said they will charge him with murder in a string of killings that terrorized a Tampa neighborhood.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced at a news conference that Howell Emanuel Donaldson, 24, would be charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
The tip that led police Tuesday to Donaldson came from one of his co-workers at an Ybor City McDonalds, which is near the Seminal Heights neighborhood that has seen four fatal shootings since early October.
News outlets reported that Donaldson asked an employee at the restaurant to hold a bag with a loaded semiautomatic gun on Tuesday afternoon while he went to a nearby business to get a payday loan. The employee told her manager about the gun and the manager alerted a Tampa police officer who was doing paperwork at a table in the restaurant.
When Donaldson returned to the restaurant, police were waiting.
Television station WFLA , citing an arrest report, said a search of Donaldson’s cellphone found location data that indicated three days of recorded times and activities corresponding with the first three shootings on Oct. 9, Oct. 11 and Oct. 19.
The arrest report said police found clothing inside Donaldson’s car that was similar to what was worn by a person spotted in surveillance video taken the night of the first shooting.
Donaldson told investigators he was unfamiliar with the neighborhood where the shootings occurred. He then asked for an attorney, but arrest records don’t list one.
Speaking Wednesday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Chief Dugan said authorities still don’t have a motive for the shootings and will be seeking help from the public as they try to learn more about Donaldson. Dugan also said he has spoken with Donaldson.
“He was pretty non-responsive; wasn’t angry,” Dugan told ABC. “It was a very subdued, strange behavior in my opinion. But whoever does something like this, Lord knows what’s driving them.”
Residents and police had 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, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was killed after taking the wrong bus home from his new job. On Nov. 14, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was killed.
All of the October victims were either getting on or off a city bus, or were at a bus stop when they were shot, police said.
Dugan said the department had received more than 5,000 tips. He thanked those who called in the tip that led to Donaldson’s arrest.
More details were expected Wednesday morning when police hold another news conference about the arrest.