Alleged Tampa serial killer arrested after he asked one of his co-workers at McDonalds to hold on to his gun

The alleged Tampa serial killer has been arrested by police and will face murder charges in connection with four killings.

Howell Donaldson III was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder after Tampa police apprehended him at a McDonald’s restaurant in Ybor City following a tip, Fox 13 reported.

In fact, 5,000 tips had come in during the 51-days that terrorized the Florida neighborhood of Seminole Heights following the murders that occurred within a half mile of each other.

On Oct. 9, 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death and two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was killed. Twenty-year-old Anthony Naiboa, who took the wrong bus home from his new job was killed on Oct. 19. Ronald Felton, 60, was shot and killed Nov. 14 while walking to volunteer at a food pantry in Seminole Heights, according to Fox News.

An officer at a McDonald’s where Donaldson has worked for the last four months was approached by one of the suspect’s coworkers Tuesday after he allegedly handed over a bag containing a weapon , Fox 13 reported.

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According to Donaldson’s arrest affidavit, he handed his coworker a McDonald’s food bag. Inside was a .40 caliber Glock firearm loaded with SIG brand Smith and Wesson ammunition. Donaldson also said he wanted to leave the state.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and ATF analyzed the fired cartridge casings in all four murder scenes and identified the casings were fired in the same firearm: a Glock .40 caliber handgun, according to the affidavit. Authorities say the firearm was lawfully purchased at Shooter’s World, located at 116 East Fletcher Avenue, on October 3. He picked it up on October 7 due to a mandatory waiting period.

While detained, Donaldson told detectives no one else besides himself had control of the gun since the purchase. He also said he was “unfamiliar with the area identified as the Seminole Heights neighborhood, and he did not have any association with anyone in the area,” per the affidavit.

Donaldson granted permission for authorities to search his vehicle and cell phone. In his vehicle, were clothing, similar to the clothing worn by a subject in surveillance video captured on October 9 — when the first murder occurred — were found. There is also a suspected blood stain on the clothes.

Location data discovered on the suspect’s phone corresponded with the times of the first three murders in October.

Tampa Police had released surveillance footage earlier this month of a person they thought was the suspect.

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Authorities still didn’t have a motive for the killings, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said Wednesday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Donaldson was “pretty non-responsive” and subdued, according to Dugan who spoke to the suspect who has not admitted to the shootings, but did admit he owned the gun that he allegedly took into the McDonald’s before being taken into custody.

Donaldson, who was reportedly born in Charlotte, North Carolina had no previous criminal record in Florida, according to Fox 13.

“Tonight will be the beginning of when justice will be served,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Tuesday evening in a press conference.

“You know 51 days ago I said this was a struggle between good and evil, well know, goodness has won,” he said.

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Frieda Powers

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