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Family of murder victim thanks McDonald's manager

LUIS SANTANA | Times Patrons are seen outside the McDonald's restaurant located in the Ybor City area Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 in Tampa. Family members of victims from the recent Seminole Heights shootings are turning up at the restaurant to thank manager Delonda Walker for her part in tipping off police about a gun she found which was left in a bag by Howell Emanuel Donaldson III.
Published Nov. 30, 2017

TAMPA — Delonda Walker, the most famous McDonald's manager in the Tampa Bay area, didn't say much when Kenny Hoffa and his family visited her at the Ybor City restaurant on Thursday.

The Hoffas were there to thank the manager for giving Tampa police the tip that led to the arrest of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III.

Everything we know about the arrest in the Seminole Heights serial killings.

It was Walker who told an officer Tuesday about the takeout bag with a gun given to her by Donaldson, an employee there. Police had been searching for whoever killed four people in Seminole Heights over the past six weeks.

Officers descended on the McDonald's and detained Donaldson, who went by "Trai." Hours later, the 24-year-old was arrested on four counts of first-degree murder.

"That was the bit of information we were looking for," Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said Wednesday. "That is what we needed."

RELATED: State Attorney: Man accused in Seminole Heights killings could face death

Kenny Hoffa's daughter, Monica, was the second victim, shot and killed on Oct. 11. She was 32.

"I can't think of a more deserving person to get that reward," Kenny Hoffa, 52, said of Walker.

He was referring to the up to $110,000 in reward money offered for information leading to an arrest. Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart has already given Walker $9,000 of that reward.

"She didn't have to say anything, we just said thank you," Hoffa said. "She did it for the right reasons. She was worried that people were in danger. What she did came straight from the heart. She brought peace and relief to our entire family by doing something selfless."

He was joined by family members Robert Hoffa (Monica's uncle) and Olga Lavandeira (Monica's mother).

RELATED: Seminole Heights slayings: Man, 24, faces four counts of murder

Casimar Naiboa's son Anthony, 20, was the third victim, shot and killed on Oct. 19. The father said he also wants to thank Walker in person. He's also eaten at the McDonald's at 2101 E 13th Ave.

"We want to thank the manager for having open eyes," the father said. "Her awareness helps to bring closure to us."

Walker, however, has declined to talk about her role in the case. But she did issue a statement through the restaurant's public relations firm:

"As you can imagine, I am overwhelmed and surprised by (Tuesday's) events and I understand why many are interested in speaking with me," she said. "At this time, I am speaking exclusively with police and am appreciative that they were nearby and quickly acted upon the information I discovered and shared with the police officer."

RELATED: College basketball teammates say Seminole Heights slaying suspect Trai Donaldson was cocky, not violent

It remains unclear how much Walker will receive from the rest of the $110,000 reward.

"I am also appreciative of the outpouring of support from the community," Walker said in her statement. "My thoughts are focused on the victims and their families and out of respect for them and the active investigation, please direct inquiries to the Tampa Police Department."

Times staff writer Howard Altman contributed to this report.

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