Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa authorities set out to save Halloween as fear grips Seminole Heights

TAMPA — While trying to solve three fatal shootings they call random but related, authorities also are working to save Halloween for the neighborhood terrorized by the violence.

Tampa police have been blanketing Southeast Seminole Heights since they linked the first two shootings, which happened Oct. 9 and 11. They were so close to the third shooting Oct. 19 that they heard it and got to the scene in minutes — but too late to find a suspect.

For Halloween night Tuesday, with the Seminole Heights shootings drawing national news coverage, authorities will be out in even greater force.

TAMPA BAY TIMES COVERAGE: SEMINOLE HEIGHTS MURDERS

Three young lives bound by death in Seminole Heights shootings

New video shows person running seconds after Seminole Heights shooting

Safety concerns also are keeping at least one restaurant, Papa John's at 512 E Hillsborough Ave, from delivering to the area where the shootings occurred.

"They told me they were afraid to come into my neighborhood because they aren't sure what's going on," said Josh Bush, who lives a few blocks from the shootings. "I can understand why, but it's frustrating when you have a craving for Papa John's and they won't deliver."

Employees at Papa Johns confirmed that deliveries to the area have been suspended.

Bush said other restaurants also have called to tell him their Uber eats drivers won't deliver to Seminole Heights.

Meantime, tipsters have provided police with possible names for a "person of interest" seen in a blurry, night-time video released Thursday — wearing a hooded top and running away from the area of the first shooting.

The video also shows what appears to be the same individual flipping a cell phone while walking. Police believe it's also the person whose image they had circulated in an earlier video.

The video has produced about 500 tips, said police spokesman Steve Hegarty.

"Many are very general," Hegarty said. "Some name individuals."

He would not provide any of the names.

Since the first of the three killings, police have received a total of nearly 1,200 tips from across the country and from other countries, Hegarty said.

The three shootings occurred over 11 days and within half a mile of one another.

Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot at a bus stop Oct. 9 near the intersection of North 15th Street and Frierson Avenue. Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed Oct. 11, and her body was found in a nearby lot two days later. On Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found shot to death at North 15th Street and Conover Street.

Naiboa's father Casimar Naiboa said he believes someone has a video recording of his son, too.

"There must be video of my son walking that might show someone walking behind him," Casimar Naiboa said. "If someone has any video of my son, please come forward," he said.

Police have not told him whether they have video of the victims, he said. Hegarty declined to comment.

Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Video recorded the night  Benjamin Mitchell was shot dead shows someone in a hooded top running away from the scene. [Tama Police Department]

Video recorded the night Benjamin Mitchell was shot dead shows someone in a hooded top running away from the scene. [Tama Police Department]

Tampa authorities set out to save Halloween as fear grips Seminole Heights 10/30/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 10:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

    Teachers

    LAND O'LAKES — Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco sat together several times in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving break, trading contract proposals amid (mostly) amicable conversation.

    Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, left, hold contract talks Nov. 9, with district negotiators. The sides are nearing an agreement.
  2. Basketball: USF Bulls bounce back with rout of Howard; FSU, Miami win

    College

    TAMPA — Three nights after running out of steam in a loss at Indiana, USF had enough to steamroll Howard of the MEAC.

  3. Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

    Business

    Some smaller retailers will tug at shoppers' heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide.

    Some smaller retailers will tug at shoppers’ heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide. Keep St. Pete Local is an independent business alliance in St. Petersburg that has more than 600 members.
  4. Zimbabwe's incoming leader returns home to cheers

    World

    HARARE, Zimbabwe — Poised to become Zimbabwe's next president, a former confidant of ousted leader Robert Mugabe on Wednesday promised "a new, unfolding democracy" and reached out to the world, saying international help is needed to rebuild the shattered economy.

    Supporters of Zimbabwe’s president in waiting, Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as “The Crocodile,” raise a stuffed reptile  in the air Wednesday as they await Mnangagwa’s arrival at the ZANU-PF party headquarters in Harare. He will be sworn in on Friday.
  5. Hernando deputies make arrest after finding body of dead woman Wednesday

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County sheriff's deputies arrested a 32-year-old man Wednesday who they say killed a woman.