Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa authorities set out to save Halloween as fear grips Seminole Heights

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.

TAMPA BAY TIMES COVERAGE: SEMINOLE HEIGHTS MURDERS

Three young lives bound by death in Seminole Heights shootings

New video shows person running seconds after Seminole Heights shooting

Safety concerns also are keeping at least one restaurant, Papa John's at 512 E Hillsborough Ave, from delivering to the area where the shootings occurred.

"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."

Employees at Papa Johns confirmed that deliveries to the area have been suspended.

Bush said other restaurants also have called to tell him their Uber eats drivers won't deliver to Seminole Heights.

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.

The video also shows what appears to be the same individual flipping a cell phone while walking. Police believe it's also the person whose image they had circulated in an earlier video.

The video has produced about 500 tips, said police spokesman Steve Hegarty.

"Many are very general," Hegarty said. "Some name individuals."

He would not provide any of the names.

Since the first of the three killings, police have received a total of nearly 1,200 tips from across the country and from other countries, Hegarty said.

The three shootings occurred over 11 days and within half a mile of one another.

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.

Naiboa's father Casimar Naiboa said he believes someone has a video recording of his son, too.

"There must be video of my son walking that might show someone walking behind him," Casimar Naiboa said. "If someone has any video of my son, please come forward," he said.

Police have not told him whether they have video of the victims, he said. Hegarty declined to comment.

Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Video recorded the night  Benjamin Mitchell was shot dead shows someone in a hooded top running away from the scene. [Tama Police Department]

Video recorded the night Benjamin Mitchell was shot dead shows someone in a hooded top running away from the scene. [Tama Police Department]

Tampa authorities set out to save Halloween as fear grips Seminole Heights 10/30/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 10:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump intends to declare NKorea a state sponsor of terror

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that he intends to declare North Korea a state sponsor of terror.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump announces that the United States will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Washington. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  2. Top 5 at noon: Adam Matos sentencing begins; Seminole Heights thanks first responders; and more

    News

    Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

    Quadruple murder suspect Adam Matos, takes the stand to proffer testimony into the record moments after the jury was dismissed for deliberations on Thursday (11/16/17) during the murder trial of Matos, who confessed in court Wednesday to killing his ex-girlfriend, Megan Brown; her parents, Margaret and Gregory Brown; and her new boyfriend, Nick Leonard.
  3. Charles Manson crawled from the Summer of Love to descend into Helter Skelter murders

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — He could have been just another grifter.

    Charles Manson is escorted to court in Los Angeles during an arraignment phase in 1969. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several others, died on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. He was 83. [Associated Press (1969)]
  4. Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

    Bucs

    On Sunday, the Buccaneers and Dolphins played one of those football games that gets only an obligatory mention at the end of highlight shows. In that spirit, this week's Turning Point will focus mostly on the final three minutes of Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed about 60 percent of his passes Sunday and threw for 275 yards in a 30-20 win over the Dolphins. He threw touchdown passes and no interceptions. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

  5. Largo police active shooter training 'a sign of the times' for participants

    Public Safety

    LARGO — The classroom was full, but the chatter was quiet as the students picked at doughnuts and sipped coffee from paper cups.

    Trainees throw tennis balls and other objects to Largo police Officer Matt Williams, who pretends to be an active shooter, during a training to prepare residents and business owners in the event of an armed intruder. The training, called ALICE - Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate - took place at Largo Police Department on Saturday, November 18, 2017. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times