Ex-FBI agent experiment: Would you be a good witness if you saw a crime?

Posted at 4:50 PM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-15 03:02:37-05

It’s been more than a month since the first Seminole Heights murder. Then, Tuesday morning, another call of shots fired came in and another person was found dead. Tampa police say Ronald Felton, 60, was crossing the street to see a friend when he was killed.

RELATED: Seminole Heights Shooting: Church volunteer shot, killed is likely 4th homicide in Tampa killings

Tampa police say they are investigating the shooting death of Felton as if it is related to the other three murders near the area, unless they find evidence to show them they are not connected.

Police say they will continue to canvass and saturate the area in hopes of finding the person(s) responsible, but for the time being, they continue to ask the public for tips. Tampa police stress that no tip is too small in a case like this one.

RELATED: Seminole Heights killer: What we know about the 3 murders Tampa police say are linked

The question is now, could someone have seen something and they have no idea they did?

Dr. Bryanna Fox, former FBI special agent and current criminology professor at the University of South Florida says it’s very possible. The biggest issue though, is an accurate depiction of what the eyewitness saw.

“75 percent of people wrongfully convicted were found guilty because of an incorrect eyewitness identification,” said Dr. Fox. “That’s a horrible statistic [and] that means the real bad guy is out there and able to commit more crimes.”

This is where being right is so crucial when it comes to what you say to the police and focusing on traits that can’t change, such as a person’s height, weight or their gender.

“It’s better to be accurate and be correct about a few things, than be inaccurate and say the wrong thing and lead police onto the wrong trail,” said Dr. Fox.

Dr. Fox says the key is to be more aware of our surroundings by doing one simple thing: put your cell phone down when in public. Be very aware of your surroundings, people coming into your personal space, passing through, and looking your way.

“You’re actually more likely to be the victim of a crime yourself, because you aren’t paying attention and you’re an easier target,” said Dr. Fox.

We set up a social experiment with Dr. Fox on USF’s campus.  A busy spot, where people were eating lunch, talking, laughing, and moving around.  Five criminology students joined us for the experiment to see if they could witness a crime that happens right in front of them.  Watch the video below to see the outcome of the experiment.