Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Public safety

New video shows person running seconds after Seminole Heights shooting

TAMPA — Stunning new video from the night of Benjamin Mitchell’s murder shows a person in a hooded top running away from the Southeast Seminole Heights area within seconds of the shooting.

The clothing leads Tampa police to believe it’s the pedestrian whose image has already been widely circulated, leading them to label this man or woman a "person of interest" in the investigation of three homicides.

Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan played the video at an afternoon news conference. He asked the public to carefully scrutinize the images, the person’s clothing and mannerisms, and to notify police if they think they know the person’s identity.

"It appears that they are walking toward the area where Benjamin Mitchell was and then they are running from the scene," Dugan said. "If that were me in that video, I have to believe that my neighbors would be able to identify me."

Officers stitched together surveillance video from multiple cameras in the neighborhood, he said. The edited video shows the person walking and flipping a cell phone in his or her right hand. Moments later, a second video shows the same person running in the opposite direction.

One time-stamped video indicates the person walked by a home and then, about seven minutes later, ran by in the opposite direction.

"I’ve come up with four reasons why this person is running," Dugan said. "One, they may be late for dinner. Two, they’re out exercising. Three, they heard gunshots. And number four, they just murdered Benjamin Mitchell."

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS HOMICIDES: "Someone is terrorizing" neighborhood after third slaying in 11 days

Mitchell was the first of three people killed in a series of shootings that occurred within 10 days and a few blocks of each other. Police have said they believe the killings are related.

Mitchell, 22, died Oct. 9.

Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed two days later.

Anthony Naiboa died Oct. 19, just 200 yards from the scene of Mitchell’s murder.

Police have been heavily patrolling the neighborhood since the killings began. They were there when Naiboa was shot, and they heard the gunfire, but they arrived too late to find a shooter.

Speculation that the killings are the work of a serial killer has drawn international attention, though police have refrained from using that label.

Dugan said police believe the person has ties to the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood.

They have been sifting through "hours upon hours" of video, he said. Enhancing the video — zooming in on the pedestrian — lowers the resolution, leaving investigators uncertain about the race or gender of the person.

"We need people to tell us who this is," Dugan said.

He repeatedly said the subject of the video is a "person of interest" but not necessarily a suspect and cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

"But why after this long — and we’ve had this video out there for so long — why have they not come forward?"

The chief warned against crime experts offering general patterns or speculation about who the killer might be.

He implored Seminole Heights residents to look closely at the person’s clothing and mannerisms and consider if they know anyone it could be. Dugan thought the way the person easily flipped their phone might be an identifying habit.

The chief added that a reward for information on the homicides has increased to $35,000.

As of Thursday afternoon, police had received about 350 tips in the case, increasingly about the video, agency spokesman Stephen Hegarty said.

Anyone with information regarding the person’s identity can call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1 (800) 873-TIPS (8477).

Staff writer Howard Altman contributed to this report.

Live coverage:

Want more? View the full stream

Comments
Markeis McGlockton’s autopsy shows he turned away from shooter

Markeis McGlockton’s autopsy shows he turned away from shooter

The autopsy for Markeis McGlockton, who was killed in a shooting that set off a debate about Florida’s stand your ground law, shows the bullet entered his body at an angle and tore through his heart and both lungs.The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida man throws bicycle, then other man off bridge (w/ video)

Florida man throws bicycle, then other man off bridge (w/ video)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Police say a man and a woman whose bike had a flat tire were attacked as they tried to walk across the Main Street Bridge in Daytona Beach, Florida. Police say 21-year-old Derrick Goodin began yelling about money at Steph...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Man dies hours after boat capsizes near Dick Misener Bridge

ST. PETERSBURG — One man died hours after he and a friend were pulled from the water Monday when their fishing boat capsized near the Dick Misener Bridge, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.A bicyclist riding over the bridge saw the bo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Chilling 911 call from shooting victim’s son lays out horrors of Pasco murder-suicide

Chilling 911 call from shooting victim’s son lays out horrors of Pasco murder-suicide

Shortly after midnight Monday, Pasco County 911 dispatchers received a chilling call."My mom is shot," said the wavering voice of a young man. "My mom was shot."Though not identified, deputies say 14-year-old Mark Price had run out of his house on 1...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tampa gunshot victim dies after he’s dropped off at hospital, police say

Tampa gunshot victim dies after he’s dropped off at hospital, police say

Times staffTAMPA — A man suffering from gunshot wounds died at a Tampa hospital after someone dropped him off there Tuesday afternoon, police said.Tampa police responded to a call about gunshots just after noon near the intersection of E Hillsborough...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Two bodies found in Clearwater Beach motel room

Two bodies found in Clearwater Beach motel room

CLEARWATER BEACH — Two people were found dead in a hotel room at Shephard’s Beach on Tuesday, according to Clearwater police.Police received a call at about 1:29 p.m. Officers found the two bodies in a room on the second floor.Homicide detectives are...
Updated: 10 hours ago
SB I-75 reopens after crash involving semi-trailers spills fruit trees onto roadway

SB I-75 reopens after crash involving semi-trailers spills fruit trees onto roadway

A three-vehicle crash brought southbound traffic on I-75 to a standstill early Tuesday morning after a vehicle struck a semi-trailer hauling fruit trees, spilling its contents onto the interstate.Jerome Coleman and Wendy Sweat, of Douglas, Ga., were ...
Published: 09/25/18
He helped save a disabled man trapped in a burning house. Now, he is a letter-carrier hero

He helped save a disabled man trapped in a burning house. Now, he is a letter-carrier hero

VALRICO — Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night are supposed to keep U.S. Postal Service workers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.Add fire to that list for Jason Moss, a letter carrier for the Sulphur Springs Post Offic...
Published: 09/25/18
Citrus County crash kills two, including Port Richey motorcyclist

Citrus County crash kills two, including Port Richey motorcyclist

A Port Richey motorcyclist and pedestrian from Citrus County were killed Monday morning in a crash on U.S. 19 in Homosassa.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 50-year-old Donald Glenn Moore was riding northbound on U.S. 19, near South Suffolk Te...
Published: 09/25/18
Michael Drejka released on bail in Clearwater parking space incident

Michael Drejka released on bail in Clearwater parking space incident

LARGO — Michael Drejka, the man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in a case that set off a national debate about self-defense in July, was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Monday afternoon.Always Available Bail Bonds posted $100,000 bai...
Published: 09/24/18
Updated: 09/25/18