Tampa PD continue searching for suspect in two recent homicides

Posted at 5:46 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 17:46:18-04

Family members of 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell laid their loved one to rest today as Tampa Police continue to search for the shooter, who they believe also killed 32-year-old Monica Hoffa.

Mitchell was killed at a bus stop on 15th Street North near Frierson Avenue last Monday. Hoffa's body was discovered in an empty lot about 10 blocks away on New Orleans Avenue on Friday. Police believe she could have been killed on Wednesday or Thursday. 

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

"Please help us. Our hearts are broken. We ask for help, please," Olga Lavandiera, Hoffa's mother said.

Police released surveillance video of a man walking in the street the night of the first shooting. 

So far, detectives haven't found a motive for the killings and are asking for the public to report any suspicious activity at 813-231-6130.

One of the last pictures of Hoffa was taken with local radio host Mike Calta. A fan of the show, she approached him at a Target store the day before she went missing. He didn't realize she was one of the murder victims until family members reached out. He called police to give them details about the encounter, hoping any information could help lead to her killer.

"I never called the police before to give them information, but I thought if this could help in some way, I should at least tell them what I know," Calta said. "She stopped me and asked if it was me. I said yes. She asked if she could take a picture and she was very excited. I was very flattered."

Hoffa's funeral service is scheduled for noon on Saturday at Gonzalez funeral home in Tampa.

Police are also warning people living near the shootings to take caution. They're asking people not to walk alone and to turn their porch lights on. TPD is even offering light bulbs to neighbors who need them.