TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A 24-year-old college graduate arrested in a string of deadly shootings that terrorized a Florida neighborhood was ordered held without bond Thursday on four counts of premeditated first-degree murder.
Howell Emanuel Donaldson was arrested Tuesday after he asked a co-worker at a McDonald’s restaurant to hold a bag carrying a gun. The co-worker looked inside the bag, spotted the weapon and approached a Tampa police officer seated in the restaurant doing paperwork. When Donaldson returned to the McDonald’s, police were waiting.
The arrest brought immense relief to the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, where many outdoor activities had stopped since the first death Oct. 9. Two more fatal shootings happened in the following weeks and the fourth in November.
Judge Margaret R. Taylor set a Tuesday hearing to determine whether Donaldson will remain jailed until trial.
Arrest records didn’t list an attorney for Donaldson and police said they didn’t know if he had a lawyer yet.
Co-workers at McDonald’s told the Tampa Bay Times they’d previously teased Donaldson, a crew chief at the restaurant, about his resemblance to the suspect after police released surveillance video that showed a shadowy figure walking in the area around the time one of the victims was killed.
“I called him the killer to his face,” Gail Rogers said. “He didn’t like that.”
Relatives, meanwhile, were expressing relief.
Robert Hoffa, the uncle of victim Monica Hoffa, said he was “overjoyed” when Tampa police called him to say they had made an arrest.
Authorities said a search of Donaldson’s cellphone found location data that indicated three days of recorded times and activities corresponding with the first three shootings on Oct. 9, Oct. 11 and Oct. 19.
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