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McDonald's manager who tipped cops to Seminole Heights suspect's gun 'overwhelmed'

Tampa police cordoned off the McDonald's in Ybor City on Tuesday where they say Howell Emanuel Donaldson III left the gun used in the Seminole Heights killings with a co-worker. [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES  | Times]
Tampa police cordoned off the McDonald's in Ybor City on Tuesday where they say Howell Emanuel Donaldson III left the gun used in the Seminole Heights killings with a co-worker. [GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES | Times]
Published Nov. 30, 2017

TAMPA — The McDonald's general manager who police have credited with giving the tip that helped bring an end to the manhunt for a serial killing suspect in Seminole Heights said she is "overwhelmed" by the situation.

Delonda Walker, who works at the fast-food giant's Ybor City restaurant, broke her silence in a statement released through a public relations manager.

"As you can imagine, I am overwhelmed and surprised by (Tuesday's) events and I understand why many are interested in speaking with me," Walker 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."

Investigators said Howell Emanuel Donaldson III left the gun used in the killings in a bag and handed it to a co-worker at the McDonald's on Tuesday afternoon. The woman, who McDonald's has identified as Walker, then handed it to a police officer doing paperwork in the restaurant.

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

Officers descended on the McDonald's and detained Donaldson, who went by "Trai" during his couple months working there. The killings had plunged nearby Seminole Heights into fear for 51 days.

Authorities and private donors had offered $110,000 in reward money for a tip leading to someone's arrest in the shootings. It was unclear Wednesday if Walker would receive all of that money.

McDonald's hopes to honor her soon.

"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."