TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa mayor wants the head of a killer. In a neighborhood fearful over a string of three killings in 11 days, police have hesitated to call the mystery shooter a “serial killer.”
However, the city’s mayor is not mincing words, reported The Washington Post.
“Bring his head to me, all right?” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told a group of dozens of police officers in video captured by NBC News. “Let’s go get it done.”
Buckhorn gave the blunt command as the officers lined up for a special roll call at a park in Seminole Heights, a neighborhood that has been saturated by law enforcement in recent weeks.
“We’re going to hunt this son of a b**** down until we catch him,” Buckhorn said in the video. “This guy is not going to win. He’s not taking over this neighborhood; he’s not taking over these streets. You guys go hunt him down.”
Residents in the neighborhood have been on edge since police indicated three killings might be connected. The murders all happened around bus stops in a one-mile radius.
First, Benjamin Edward Mitchell, a 22-year-old aspiring musician and community college student, was shot and killed as he waited alone at a bus stop on Oct. 9. Four days later, police found the body of 32-year-old waitress Monica Hoffa.
Then, in a vacant lot about a hundred yards away, police discovered the body of Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old with a mild form of autism. He had gotten on the wrong bus and was in Seminole Heights by mistake, police said.
Law enforcement officers were out patrolling the streets when they heard the gunfire that killed Naiboa, the Tampa Bay Times reported. But when they got to the scene, the shooter had successfully fled.
— Josh Sidorowicz (@joshsidorowicz) October 25, 2017
In the days since the last homicide, Tampa police officers have been canvassing the neighborhood, keeping a watchful eye on children as they wait for their school buses. They have been going door-to-door asking residents for any relevant information.
As a result of fear in the community, public works crews have been boarding up abandoned buildings and replacing any broken streetlights to make the streets feel safer at night.
Current discussions have families considering opting out of trick-or-treating this Halloween. But on Wednesday, Tampa interim police chief Brian Dugan offered to walk with families on Halloween night.
“I’ll walk with their family and get candy with them,” Dugan said after the roll call at the Seminole Heights Park. “I might even take some of their candy,” he joked.
It is still unclear whether one person committed the murders or if others were involved. However, authorities are searching for a hooded person of interest who was captured in surveillance video in the area on the night of the first killing. He is seen walking alone at night, looking at a cellphone from time to time.
Dugan said Wednesday he was still uncomfortable referring to the person responsible for the deaths as a “serial killer.”
“We have purposely avoided that tag because I don’t want people to stereotype, to narrow their search,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “We don’t have enough information for those type of labels.”
(Photo: Bob Buckhorn Facebook)