Tampa police on Thursday released a new surveillance video in the hunt for a suspect in three fatal and apparently random shootings.
The video was taken the night of the first shooting in Seminole Heights. It shows a person in a hooded top running away from the neighborhood within seconds of the slaying.
Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan played the video Thursday, saying that detectives want to talk to the “person of interest” in the video. At one point, the person seems to be holding an object. The person in the video is similar to someone in an earlier video released by officers — only in the latest video, the figure is seen running in long strides down a street.
“I’ve come up with four reasons why this person is running,” Dugan said. “One, they may be late for dinner. Two, they’re out exercising. Three, they heard gunshots. And number four, they just murdered Benjamin Mitchell.”
The 22-year-old Mitchell, 22, was the first person shot on Oct. 9. Two days later Monicoa Hoffa, 32, was gunned down. And on Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot after taking the wrong bus home from his new job. Police patrolling in the neighborhood actually heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene to find Naiboa dead.
Tampa’s mayor told police officers this week to hunt the suspect down and “bring his head to me.”
News outlets report that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn addressed the officers Wednesday afternoon during a roll call in the Seminole Heights neighborhood where two men and one woman have been gunned down while walking since Oct. 9.
“Bring his head to me, all right?” Buckhorn said. “Let’s go get it done.”
Buckhorn and interim police Chief Brian Dugan told the officers they’ve brought “a sense of calmness” to the terrorized neighborhood near downtown Tampa. Then, officers headed out by patrol car, bicycle and on foot to resume patrols.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the mayor and police chief talked afterward to reporters, detailing the work that’s been done but offering no new details in the unsolved killings.
All three victims, who didn’t know each other, rode the bus and were alone when they were shot on the street, authorities said. None of the victims was robbed.
Over the past few weeks, Tampa Electric Co. and public works teams have been cutting foliage, boarding up vacant buildings and replaced burnt-out street lights in the area, the mayor said.
“We’re going to shine a very, very bright light on this community,” Buckhorn said.
Police have asked residents to keep porch lights on in the neighborhood at night.
The chief promised nervous parents that the community will be safe for Halloween next week.
“I’m gonna go out there,” he said. “I’ll be personally on patrol, and you know what? If somebody wants to walk with me, they can walk with me. I’ll walk with their family and get candy with them. I might even take some of their candy.”