Tampa PD: Two recent homicides appear to be related, residents urged to be vigilant

Video shows man in area of first homicide
Posted at 12:27 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 06:11:33-04

Tampa police interim Chief Brian Dugan held a news conference on Tuesday to update the investigation into two recent homicides. 

Interim Chief Dugan says it appears the crimes are related based on the proximity and circumstances. 

On Monday, October 9, Benjamin Mitchell was killed at approximately 9 p.m. while waiting at a bus stop at 15th and Frierson. It appears he was alone at the time, police say. Mitchell has no criminal background and police say he is a "good person from a good family."

ABC Action News spoke with Mitchell's friend who darted outside to help the victim moments after shots were fired. 

"I kneeled next to his body, he was still alive. I checked his pulse, his pulse was still strong," Yahrael Bey said. "I kind of felt a jolt, that was him trying to breath. I could hear him trying to breath. It will be a sound that I will never forget."

Monica Hoffa, 32, was shot and killed in the 1000 block of E New Orleans Avenue. Her body was found early Friday, October 13. Police say the shooting may have occurred late Wednesday or on Thursday. 

Tampa police say there are no clear motives behind the killings, however, several factors have led detectives to believe that the cases are related due to the close time frame and proximity. The two locations are within 10 blocks, roughly half a mile, of each other in the southeast Seminole Heights area. 

Tampa police have blanketed the area with officers and have sent alerts to residents in the area via Alert Tampa. They are looking for surveillance video that may help their investigation. 

"They don't care. They don't believe in God, they don't believe in you, they don't believe in themselves. And that's sad," said Kim Brown, Mitchell's aunt. 

Police have released surveillance video of a man walking down the street when the first murder occurred.

Police are urging residents to remain aware and to not walk alone at night. They say to turn on outdoor lights and report any suspicious activity to Tampa Police at 813-231-6130.