Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tampa Police Department are adamant in believing that a string of homicides all within a small neighborhood are connected by a killer they say knows the area quite well.
What's believed to be a serial killer, possibly living in the neighborhood himself, has so far killed four people in the tiny perimeter around the neighborhood.
According to Police, the most recent attack occurred on Tuesday where a sixty-year-old male was shot from behind and killed as he crossed the street to his home at around 5 AM.
Ronald Felton, an unemployed construction worker, who was edging closer to retirement had his life cut short because of the killer on the loose.
Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said the knowledge of the area by the killer to have hidden so precisely and stalked his prey, of a man who crosses the road daily at that time heading into his house, implies he's very familiar with his surroundings.
“Whoever is doing it, they’re familiar with the neighborhood and they’re able to vanish very quickly,” Dugan said
The first incident happened early in October, on the 9th, when one of the residents in the neighborhood, 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death.
That had the neighborhood already on edge, and then two days afterward 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was gunned down outside of her home.
Then just a few days after the second homicide, on October the 19th, 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa was viciously shot and killed after taking the wrong bus home from his new job.
“This was a very decent neighborhood until the last couple of months,” sighed Sherry Street, 50, a cook who has lived in the area for seven years. “Up until recently, I used to accidentally fall asleep with the door unlocked.”
According to Street, she's now stopped smoking outside, walking to the store, walking her dogs, and avoiding exiting her home for any reason until the gunman is caught.
She said many of her friends used to come to visit but they're also in fear, saying that they refuse to enter the neighborhood themselves due to the killings.
“When I first divorced and moved here, I stayed in some pretty rough areas. But I’ve never seen anything like this. Maybe I need to consider moving,” Street said, shaking her head. “It’s some crazy person. That’s all you can explain it. Because why? They’re just targeting innocent people and shooting them.”
Law enforcement says that they do have a description of the killer, standing just over 6’2” tall, a black male, with a thin build and a light complexion wearing all black clothing.
They say he's believed to be using a black pistol to commit the murders, but haven't released and ballistics specifics.
Bryanna Fox, a criminology professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said it is unusual for a serial killer to use a gun.
“A lot of serial killers prefer other methods such as knives or strangulation,” she said. “Those tend to be more one-on-one, and that’s what most serial killers prefer, a more intimate experience.”
Now the ATF, the FBI, and local police are swarming the neighborhood night and day even blocking traffic and searching the nearby homes’ exteriors hoping to find someone matching that description.
What once was a safe area, now seems as if he's being hunted by a brutal serial killer who's randomly targeting individuals that he stalks and follows until he decides to kill them.
A scary thought for anyone nearby.
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