TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thayne Washburn used to take long walks with his dog and young daughters through Seminole Heights. But now, the father is on guard just trying to get to the park.
“We are constantly looking around, watching the bushes, watching the houses,” he said. “It is stressful. It is nerve-wracking. We can’t ever just sleep because we hear a siren and think is it another one?”
In the last month, four people who police say are not connected have been shot and killed — but not robbed — while walking alone at night within a half-mile area in Seminole Heights.
All of the murders have happened at night, leading to Washburn’s decision to only come out with his daughters during the day.
“We are afraid to play in our own backyard,” said Washburn.
But Washburn doesn’t want the fear to take over. That is a sentiment that many in Seminole Heights share. Shirts that read, ’We Are Seminole Heights’ have been made to unify the community. Some have even put up signs reading, ‘Seminole Heights Strong.’
The community support and added police presence help neighbors hold onto their ‘normal’ while detectives work to bring justice.
“We can’t just stop our everyday life. The fact there is so many police everywhere makes us feel a lot more comfortable,” said Washburn.