Arrest of suspected killer puts Florida neighbourhood at ease

TAMPA, Fla. — After enduring almost two months of fear, a Tampa neighbourhood breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after authorities announced the arrest of a suspected serial killer, a recent college graduate who gave himself away after asking a co-worker to hold a bag containing a handgun.

Howell Emanuel Donaldson, who was working as crew chief at a McDonald’s, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in a string of shootings that targeted people near bus stops.

“We had a community that was on edge,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Today the light shines. The darkness is over. This community begins the healing process.”

Neighbours of the 24-year-old — who lived in a different area of Tampa than where the slayings took place — said they recently saw him playing basketball with his younger brother in the driveway of the family’s suburban home. Now they’re watching news of him on television, puzzled as to how a kid who went to college in New York on a basketball scholarship ended up behind bars.

“He’s very nice. He waves, very polite,” said neighbour Kelly Fabian, who said she walked Donaldson to school when he was younger. “Quiet kid. It’s a shocker.”

Arrest records did not list an attorney for Donaldson, and the police chief said he did not know if the suspect had a lawyer yet. He’s scheduled to make a first court appearance Thursday in Hillsborough County.

The arrest, which happened Tuesday night, brought immense relief to the anxious neighbourhood of Seminole Heights, which had stopped many outdoor activities since the first death on Oct. 9. Two more fatal shootings happened in the weeks that followed, and residents were so scared that police escorted children while they trick-or-treated. The fourth killing happened earlier this month.

“I think in this situation it’s a lose-lose no matter how you look at it, except for a magical thing like when a community — organizations, law enforcement — come together unified and can put somebody behind bars,” said Brittany Lott, who said she has not walked her bulldogs in 51 days.

serial killerTampa Bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 323 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
‘We’re in a danger zone,’ says Hinshaw

The province’s top doctor says “we’re in a danger zone” when it… Continue reading

Mayor Tara Veer pleads with the premier Tuesday to review the decision to move to a consolidated EMS dispatch system, which will be moved to three centres across the province. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
‘Issue of life and death’: mayors plead with government to halt consolidated EMS dispatch

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer calls on premier to overturn consolidated EMS dispatch decision

A $2.3-billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system has been approved. “This should provide significant benefits — and we need every little bit of economic boost we can get,” says Reg Warkentin, policy adviser for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Dustin Snider was elected the new board president for Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Earl’s Restaurant manager re-elected Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce president

Dustin Snider has been re-elected president of the Red Deer & Distict… Continue reading

Red Deer singer Kayla Williams hopes listeners fed up with the pandemic are comforted by her new song, Stealing from My Youth, which is digitally available for streaming on Friday. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer singer summarizes universal pandemic feelings in a new single

Kayla Williams releases ‘Stealing From My Youth’ on Friday

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw warms up before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford leaps over a challenge by PSG's Presnel Kimpembe during the Champions League group H soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Man United wins again at PSG; Messi scores in Barca rout

Man United wins again at PSG; Messi scores in Barca rout

Hamilton Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis, right, hugs captain Kyle Bekker following their victory in the Canadian Premier League soccer final against the Calgary Cavalry in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Under Smyrniotis, Forge FC has been the class of the Canadian Premier League. The two-time champions from Hamilton look to mark their internationally this week as they open CONCACAF League play in El Salvador. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Players' sticks are shown during a World Hockey Championships game in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, May 12, 2016. A senior hockey team in a small city in southern Manitoba has changed its name following a push against the use of Indigenous names and caricatures as mascots. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev
Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Jason Kokrak tees off during the final round of the CJ Cup golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in North Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

The Los Angeles Dodgers line up during during the national anthem and a fly over before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Keegan Messing performs in the Gala at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Most Read