The circumstances surrounding the death of Florida resident Ronald Felton has led police to believe that he died at the hands of a suspected serial killer.
According to WFLA, the Tampa Bay Police Department said that the 60-year-old was shot from behind and killed while crossing the street in the same Seminole Heights neighborhood that has been the sight of three shootings recently. Police found Felton’s body in the street only blocks away from a memorial honoring three people who died in a suspected killing spree last month.
Witnesses recalled seeing someone shoot Felton as he was on his way to meet a friend. They also described the suspected shooter as a black man, between 6-foot and 6-foot-2 in height, with a thin build and a light complexion. He was reportedly wearing all black and carrying a large black pistol.
“We think by their proximity and the manner it was done, they are linked,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said in a press conference. “We’re saying it’s related to the other Seminole Heights murders.”
Dugan added his belief that the murderer “lives in this neighborhood.”
Felton is remembered by those who knew him for “helping people, always,” being loved by everyone, and feeding the homeless at least twice a week.
Tampa Bay police began to suspect that the suspicious deaths of three people were linked after they died in in the same area within 10 days of each other. As Rare previously reported: “The first murder occurred on Oct. 9, when Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot at a bus stop. Four days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was found dead in a parking lot, and on Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed while walking down the street.”
The Tampa Bay Police Department gathered and released security camera footage to aid in their search. The video shows an unidentified individual wearing a hoodie while walking and running in an area around the same time one of the victims, Mitchell, was shot and killed. The department noted that the individual in the videos is not a suspect but is potentially a key witness in the investigation.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn previously told police in a press conference, “Bring [the shooter’s] head to me,” bluntly promising police would “hunt this son of a bitch down until [they] catch him.” Last month, both Buckhorn and interim Police Chief Brian Dugan announced a Halloween celebration at a local park with heavy police presence for parents who had considered canceling their trick-or-treating plans. Beyond the festivities, residents were encouraged to not walk alone, especially at night.
Hillsborough County School District placed eight area schools on a “lock-in” status — meaning that outdoor activities have been canceled until further notice, but parents will still be able to drop off and pick up their children, while changes to bus routes and other procedures are being considered. The lock-ins were later lifted from all but one of the schools.
Dugan encouraged anyone with a surveillance camera to “make sure [their] video is up and running.” Those who own guns were also encouraged to make sure they were secure and report immediately if any of them go missing.