TAMPA — While trying to solve three fatal shootings they call random but related, authorities also are working to save Halloween for the neighborhood terrorized by the violence.
Tampa police have been blanketing Southeast Seminole Heights since they linked the first two shootings, which happened Oct. 9 and 11. They were so close to the third shooting Oct. 19 that they heard it and got to the scene in minutes — but too late to find a suspect.
For Halloween night Tuesday, with the Seminole Heights shootings drawing national news coverage, authorities will be out in even greater force.
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"They told me they were afraid to come into my neighborhood because they aren't sure what's going on," said Josh Bush, who lives a few blocks from the shootings. "I can understand why, but it's frustrating when you have a craving for Papa John's and they won't deliver."
Meantime, tipsters have provided police with possible names for a "person of interest" seen in a blurry, night-time video released Thursday — wearing a hooded top and running away from the area of the first shooting.
Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot at a bus stop Oct. 9 near the intersection of North 15th Street and Frierson Avenue. Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed Oct. 11, and her body was found in a nearby lot two days later. On Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found shot to death at North 15th Street and Conover Street.