SEMINOLE HEIGHTS, Fla. — Tampa Police confirmed that a fourth deadly shooting in Seminole Heights is linked to three previous unsolved murders in the area since October.
On Wednesday, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan released new video captured just minutes before the murder of 60-year-old Ronald Felton. Police say that the man seen in the video has the same walk as the person captured in surveillance video taken in October the night of the first murder.
Dugan said the man in the video is now a suspect, rather than a person of interest.
"I want people to look at the video. I want people to see how this person walks," Dugan said.
The reward for information leading to an arrest now stands at $110,000.
"We don't need speculation, we don't need profiles, we just need names," Dugan said.
Police responded to a report about shots fired just before 5:00 a.m. in the area of N. Nebraska Avenue and E. McBerry Street. When they arrived on scene, they found a deceased adult male in the street.
Police identified the victim as 60-year-old Ronald Felton. Witnesses tell police that Felton was crossing the street to meet someone when the suspect came up behind him and shot him. Felton was on his way to meet with the pastor of the local church, where he has been a volunteer for the past 10 years.
TPD is looking for a suspect described as an African-American male with a light complexion. They believe he is approximately 6-feet tall with a thin, strong build. He was last seen wearing all black with a baseball cap on, and was armed with a large black pistol. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan believes that the suspect is a resident of the Seminole Heights neighborhood.
"We will hunt this person down until we find them," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said during a press conference Tuesday morning.
Police created a perimeter in Seminole Heights to search for the suspect but they fell short in their efforts.
Tuesday's murder comes nearly a month after a killer murdered three people over the span of 10 days in Seminole Heights. Police say that they are treating the suspicious death as related to the Seminole Heights Killer until they know differently.
Edison Elementary School, Seminole Heights Elementary School, Lomax Elementary School, Lockhart Elementary School, Young Middle School, Ferrell Middle School, Memorial Middle School and Hillsborough High School started their day on Tuesday in "lock-in" mode. A lock-in means that access is tightly controlled; students can be dropped off, but outdoor activities will not take place. As of 9:14 a.m., Edison Elementary School remained on lock-in and other schools resumed normal operations with monitored access to their secure campuses.
Earlier in the morning, the school district advised students living in the perimeter of Hillsborough Avenue, Nebraska Avenue, Chelsea Street and 15th Street not leave their homes.
"Do not go to bus stops or leave to walk or drive to school until police secure the area," the school district tweeted on Tuesday morning.
Schools in #SeminoleHeights are open today. Students who live inside the @TampaPD perimeter of Hillsborough Av, Nebraska Av, Chelsea St & 15th St. should stay in your homes. Do not go to bus stops or leave to walk or drive to school until police secure the area.
"We will work with Tampa Police throughout the day to assess what procedures will need to be in place for dismissal at these schools, as well as any bus routes or bus stops that may need to be changed," the school district said in a press release.
HART Busing Impact
HART says that they are taking extra precaution by rerouting Route 9 via 22nd Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to Hillsborough Avenue daily from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. This detour will continue until noted otherwise.
"We’ve been actively working with the Tampa Police Department to ensure the safety of our employees and customers," HART's website states.
Area Businesses Closed
Businesses located inside of the perimeter were closed on Tuesday. Employees who work at the businesses located inside the perimeter had been turned away by police.
Since the October murders, officers have gone door-to-door, making sure they don't miss any information or clues that could lead to the arrest of the shooter. Tampa police have received hundreds of tips, but have fallen short on solid leads.
Chief Dugan is asking residents who own guns to go in their homes and verify that their guns are still there, insinuating that the suspect may have stolen any weapons used in the killings. If a gun is missing, it should be reported immediately.
The FBI is going door to door in Seminole Heights gathering information as part of their investigation.