It was only a matter of time before the Tampa Bay serial killer would be caught. An Afro-American suspect has been arrested and charged for killing four people with firearms in the early morning hours, dating back 51 days since early October of this year.
His name is Howell Donaldson, a McDonald’s employee who asked his Manager at the franchise restaurant to hold a 9mm gun for him. Instead of just holding the gun for him, the Manager of the McDonald’s branch did the right thing and called the police, with a tip-off on Donaldson on Tuesday afternoon, which resulted in the Tampa Bay police, and Chief Brian Dugan, swooping in for a swift arrest of the suspect, much to his surprise.
The killings began on October 9th, with the shooting of Benjamin Mitchell in the Seminole Heights neighbourhood in front of his home, then on October 13th, Monica Hoffa was shot dead in cold blood. Five days later on October 19th, after taking the wrong bus home, Anthony Naiboa – who had just graduated high school – was shot and killed. Lastly, the callous killing spree culminated in the killing of Ronald Felton on November 14th, who was traveling to help to feed the homeless.
Howell Donaldson had been terrorising the Seminole Heights neighbourhood over the past couple of months. As for a motive for his sick crimes, it is yet still unknown. Howell Donaldson faces four counts of first degree murder, and the weapon has obviously already been verified as the murder weapon.
The Tampa Bay Police have said that all they needed was one good tip-off, and the case would be solved. Low and behold, they were right. The manager of the McDonald’s where Howell worked, Gail Rogers, told The Tampa Bay Times that Howell (also known as Trai), walked into the restaurant in his uniform and asked her to hold his loaded 9mm handgun. After he had left the building to go to Amscot for a pay day loan, Gail alerted a police officer inside the restaurant as to what had just happened. The officer immediately called for backup, and Howell was then later arrested.
Howell had only worked at the restaurant chain for four months. The blurry CCTV videos released showing him running away from the scene of the crime while holding his gun, fit Howell’s description down to a tee – a light-skinned black man, about 6ft 2inches tall, who normally wears a hoodie. The police arrested him and took him in for immediate questioning, all because of his mistake in leaving his firearm with the restaurant manager.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn said after the arrest, “Fifty one days ago, I said this was a struggle between good and evil. Well, tonight goodness has won.”
Police Chief Brian Dugan told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that a man had been brought in for questioning for the Tampa Bay killing spree, and it looks like they finally got their man.
Donaldson was born in North Carolina, but spent most of his time in Tampa Bay, before going to play college basketball at St. John’s University in New York,
This arrest brings to an end to the fear and intimidation that many in Tampa Bay had faced with these early morning cold blooded killings, and a dangerous man has been removed from the community.
We can now expect a definite life sentence for Howell Donaldson, and – due to recent changes in Florida law – a high possibility of the death penalty being carried out, if a jury or judge allows for it. We will keep you updated about the Tampa Bay serial killer’s fate. Let’s hope that justice will be served.
Brainstain, over and out!
<Story by The Narrator>
Featured Photo Credit: AP