Seminole Heights murder suspect: Who is Howell ‘Trai’ Donaldson?

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – The man accused of terrorizing Seminole Heights for almost two months was born in North Carolina and grew up in Tampa.

Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, who goes by Trai, was working at the McDonald’s in Ybor City when he was taken into custody on Tuesday.

Donaldson’s home address is about 20 minutes away from Seminole Heights.

He graduated from Alonso High School in 2011. He played guard on the varsity basketball team.

Alonso High School principal and basketball coach said they do not want to comment on their former player at this time.

St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. told WFLA News Channel 8 that Donaldson attended the University beginning in the fall of 2011 and graduated in January 2017.

“He was a walk-on student-athlete for the men’s basketball team during the 2011-2012 season but never played in a game,” the University said.

Donaldson worked at the Ultimate Medical Academy in Tampa in a customer support role. The company told WFLA News Channel 8 that he was employed from February 13 to May 2, 2017 and was terminated for absenteeism.

“Per UMA hiring policy, Donaldson passed a background check prior to employment,” the company said.

He has no previous criminal history in Florida, but he did have some traffic citations, records show. NBC reported that he was arrested in NYC in may of 2014 but details weren’t available.

Tampa police believe Donaldson is the person shown in the surveillance video released on Nov. 15 after Ronald Felton was killed.

He is accused of shooting four people to death between Oct. 9 and Nov. 14 in southeast Seminole Heights.

“We’re not sure why he was in this neighborhood. We’re not sure what his ties are or what motivated him,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said.

Donaldson is facing four counts of first-degree murder.

“I assure you, this is the person who did this,” Dugan said.


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