Howell Donaldson is accused of being the man who terrorized a Tampa neighborhood with a series of random slayings. He was questioned by police earlier in the day on November 28 after they confronted Donaldson at a local McDonald’s restaurant where he worked. Now, the Tampa mayor says, “good defeated evil.”
Here’s a photo of Howell Donaldson, who is 24-years-old and from the Tampa area. According to WFLA-TV, “Donaldson is accused in the murders of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton.”
According to his LinkedIn page, Donaldson described himself as “a natural born leader, that takes great pride in originality. A professional that executes on all levels; motivated by great heights of opportunity. Currently establishing myself for a career in the Sport World.” The page says that up until May 2017, Donaldson had been working as a Classroom Support Specialist at the Ultimate Medical Academy. He was raised in Tampa and also has ties to North Carolina; his parents run a Florida hair salon.
Here are more photos of the suspect. A co-worker told the news media that Donaldson, a McDonald’s employee, “handed a manager a gun Tuesday afternoon and then left the Ybor City restaurant to visit an Amscot.” Police were waiting for him when he came back after receiving a tip.
Police said earlier in the day that the apprehension of Donaldson might provide the break they needed to solve the terrifying string of Seminole Heights killings in Tampa, Florida. Photos and videos emerged of Donaldson and from the scene of the McDonald’s showing the man’s red car as massive media attention focused on the scene.
The above photo is from the moment he was captured. At that time, he was not under arrest and had not been formally accused of any wrongdoing or connection to the possible Tampa serial killings. That’s now changed, and police have ID’d the man they encountered at McDonald’s as Howell Donaldson.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said in an earlier news conference that, after receiving a tip, police “confronted the person that had the gun” and were interviewing the person, now named as Donaldson.
“It’s very early in the investigation,” Dugan stressed, adding that there had been more than 5,000 tips since the string of slayings started in early October 2017.
“We have to be very careful what we release because this person might be completely innocent. I’m optimistic on this one, but only time will tell. We have a lot of work to do. We will be in the neighborhood tonight. It’s important that people use caution… It’s still very early,” the police said in the news conference after word spread. However, they later revealed that Donaldson has been charged with the slayings.
Chief Dugan said before that news broke that he was optimistic because “things are falling in place,” but he said that had happened before and “led to nothing.” It’s “day 51 that we’ve been doing this,” the police chief said. “It’s been a long time for the families and for the cops…It’s going to be a long night.”
Dugan said before the name was revealed that it would be a slow process that will require search warrants and interviews to determine whether the man could be tied to the Tampa homicides.
The McDonald’s restaurant is located in Ybor City. However, it took only a few hours for police to say they’d made the case.
Dugan added before that news was released: “Yes, I believe this has to do with Seminole Heights….I’m hopeful, but I’m guarded… we have a gun…we got a tip that the gun was there.” According to Bradenton.com, “There was a heavy police presence at the McDonald’s on East 13th Avenue on Tuesday after police confronted a man who was armed and may be linked with the shooting deaths in Seminole Heights.” Police were led to the location by a tip.
The Seminole Heights killer has struck several times since October 9. The victims are Benjamin Mitchell, 22; Monica Hoffa, 32; Anthony Naiboa, 20; and Ronald Felton, 60. It appears the victims were shot randomly. Although officials fear the slayings add up to the work of a serial killer, they have stopped short of identifying the suspect as a serial killer.
Police previously released a sketch of the possible Tampa serial killer, as well as video appearing to show him. The slayings, which appear to be random, have terrified people throughout Tampa since they broke out.
You can read more about Donaldson here: