TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A $25,000 reward is now being offered for information that leads to an arrest in the shooting deaths of three people in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay announced a partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Friday to offer the reward.
A recent Middleton High School graduate who took a bus home from work on Thursday night has become the third victim of a killer who is targeting the neighborhood.
Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said officers were patrolling Seminole Heights around 8 p.m on Thursday when they heard gunshots. Minutes later, officers found the body of Anthony Naiboa, 20.
“He was in the prime of his life and was taken instantly,” said Chief Dugan during a news conference on Friday morning.
In a horrible occurrence, Naiboa’s body was found on the sidewalk near the home where the killer’s first victim, Benjamin Mitchell, 22, lived on North 15th Street.
Police say the three murder victims’ bodies were found in the last ten days, all within one mile of each other.
Dugan said he was frustrated that officers did not catch the killer on Thursday night, despite deploying a helicopter, SWAT team and K9s.
“I was convinced we were going to catch this person,” he said.
“Our officers heard the gunshots. We have a heavy presence and this person was able to sneak away.”
Naiboa, who had autism, had taken a city bus home from work. His parents called police when their son did not return home from work on Thursday night. Sadly, they learned he was a murder victim.
Naiboa’s father, Casimar Naiboa says his son had a job packaging hurricane relief supplies.
“He wasn’t any threat to nobody, he never did nothing to nobody,” Casimar Naiboa said.
Anthony Naiboa’s four siblings were among the relatives at a memorial for him Friday.
His father wept as he held a photograph of his son.
“I can’t believe my son is gone,” Casimar said.
He says the person responsible is a coward and needs to be caught. He’s asking for anyone with information to come forward.
“The hardest part of police work is when you deal with the victim’s families,” said Dugan.
“We believe it’s the same person,” he added, saying that investigators do not know what is motivating the murders.
The first murder was discovered on Monday, Oct. 9. Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot and killed at a bus stop at 15th Street and East Frierson Avenue.
The second murder happened days later. The body of Monica Hoffa was discovered on Oct. 13 a few blocks away in a vacant lot on East New Orleans Avenue.
Detectives have not discovered any connection between the victims. They do not yet have any leads.
Chief Dugan urged people to watch a video released earlier this week to see if they recognize the person recorded by surveillance cameras. (You can watch the video below in this article.)
“Do not assume it’s a white, black, or male,” he said about the person in the video.
The killings have Seminole Heights residents on edge. Morgan Matthews said he is scared about what could happen next.
“I don’t really like to go outside anymore,” Matthews told News Channel 8. “Versus how it was back in the day and now. People don’t care. A lot of people just don’t care.”
Anyone with any information regarding this case and who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or send a mobile tip using our P3 Tips mobile application, which is a free download for iPhones, iPads, and Droids.
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