A newly released audio recording with a man who said he was near the scene of the fourth and final serial killing in Seminole Heights is raising questions about whether the accused killer acted alone.
The witness participated in a recorded interview with an officer at the scene shortly after the shooting on Nov. 14, 2017.
The man told the officer he saw three “young men” run from the scene after the shots were fired.
The incident happened in the area of Nebraska Avenue, between Caracas Street and McBerry Street just before 5 a.m.
Ronnie Felton, the fourth victim was on his way to help set up a soup kitchen when he was shot to death in the middle of Nebraska Avenue that morning.
The witness said he was the only person at a nearby laundromat sometime between 4:25 a.m. and 5 a.m. when he heard a gunshot. He said five other people were waiting outside the church next door, along with people who were in cars parked out front.
“I heard the first shot and that got my attention and I ducked and I looked up. ‘bang, bang, bang’ they shot five times. I’m pretty sure they shot five times and they ran on the right, ran north,” the witness said.
He told the officer that he believed the men were black and wore dark clothing.
“There were three of them. I don’t know who did the shooting. There were three people,” the witness said. “They had to be young, because they ran. They’re young.”
He said he didn’t see the gun but described the tallest of the three suspects.
“Tall about 5’9” and skinny. It was cold but I guess he had a coat on. I could tell he was slim build and was the tallest one. The rest of them were kind of short,” the witness said.
He told the officer he didn’t know Felton but another person who was waiting outside the church spoke with Felton that morning.
The witness said police were on scene almost instantly.
This is the first time the public is hearing about the possibility of multiple suspects at the scene of one of the murders.
There’s another witness account from a woman who told police she saw a single gunman shoot Felton from behind, stood over him and then fired more shots. She did not see any other suspects, according to documents. Investigators said there is also video of the shooting, which matches the woman’s account of what happened.
Tampa police spokesperson Steve Hegarty released the following statement on Friday about the newly-released documents:
“On November 28, 2017, Tampa Police arrested the man responsible for the murders of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton . We stand by the arrest and we recognize that it will be a long and complex process as the case makes its way through the courts.”
Howell Donaldson, III is the only person facing murder charges for all four of the 2017 murders.