By Sandra Rose  | 

Howell Donaldson III

Tampa residents are relieved after police arrested 24-year-old Howell E. Donaldson III in connection with four shooting deaths that terrorized one Tampa neighborhood.

Donaldson was detained Tuesday at a McDonald's in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood after an employee called in a tip about a man with a gun.

Police nabbed Donaldson during one of the largest manhunts Tampa has ever seen. Multiple law enforcement agencies joined in the manhunt.

"Tonight, goodness has won," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told reporters at a press conference. "Tonight in the battle between darkness and light, light has won."

The Tampa resident is a suspect in the random shooting deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, 22, who was killed while waiting for a bus on Oct. 9; Monica Hoffa, 32, who was found dead in a vacant lot on Oct. 13; and Anthony Naiboa, 20, who was killed while walking on Oct. 19.

After the first three murders were linked to a suspected serial killer, police took to radio, TV and social media, asking the public to report any suspicious activity. Officials released still images and surveillance video of a lone male seen fleeing on foot from an area where the body of Ronald Felton, 60, was found Nov. 14 near the site of a memorial for the three other victims.

Tampa victims

All four victims were killed in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood.

At a press conference on Tuesday Police Chief Bryan Dugan explained that a tip called in by a curious McDonald's employee led to Donaldson's capture.

Peabo Johnson was working the grill area at a McDonald's when a male walked in carrying a black book bag. The man asked her to hold the bag for him while he went to cash a check, according to NBC affiliate WFLA.

The man told Johnson not to look inside the bag but she looked anyway, Johnson said. That's when she noticed a gun and called police, who swarmed Donaldson and tackled him to the floor.

Police Chief Dugan did not say whether Donaldson's firearm matched bullets taken from the victims.

Angelique DuPree, Mitchell's cousin, said the arrest brings closure "for us, but more so for the city itself, because it's been on pins and needles."

"Even if it's not the guy, just to know they got somebody with a gun off the street is a good thing," DuPree said.

  • Ms.Vanilla

    Good morning Roses!

  • Ms.Vanilla

    Good morning Roses!

  • Noirluv45

    If guilty, he needs to fry.

  • Renee26

    So they don't know if that's him or not ...

  • Noirluv45

    Good morning!

  • Noirluv45

    "Peabo Johnson was working the grill area at a McDonald’s when a male walked in carrying a black book bag. The man asked her to hold the bag for him while he went to cash a check, according to NBC affiliate WFLA.

    The man told Johnson not to look inside the bag but she looked anyway, Johnson said."

    This whole scene doesn't make any sense. It's almost like he wanted to get caught.

  • Zeta Phi Beta 1920

    I am currently in Tampa. They have that whole area on LOCK DOWN. No one could get in or out without showing ID.

  • Zeta Phi Beta 1920

    The Mayor is celebrating too soon.
    What happened to INNOCENT until proven guilty.

  • Tammie Reed

    Yeah I'm confused!

  • Zeta Phi Beta 1920

    And I am sitting with a co worker & we are reading different accounts of HOW/WHY he was captured. It is not lining up.

  • Renee26

    RIP to the victims of the killing ... I would like more info on how they linked him to the murders because just carrying a gun and being seen walking i in the neighborhood where you work at isn't enough to convince me... plus this is Florida

  • Mac Jones

    Uuhhh so a person with a gun in their backpack is automatically your guy? Gotcha.

  • Renee26

    Ok, I started reading other articles too... not enough details on how they concluded it was him

  • Renee26

    and fitting the description of a black male walking in the vicinity...we know that could be anybody; was the footage clear?? SMH

  • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!

    he's clearly crazy (but is he the serial killer? they don't seem certain at this point)

  • Indies beauty

    Good for his dumb self. I'm right on the other side of I.4 in Orlando and he has definelty terrorized Tampa and sabotaged my weekend there a couple of weeks back.

    They had surveillance from the neighborhood but the videos were grainy. The main identifying point's included him running away from scene and the way he twirled his phone up while he was casually strolling towards another scene.

    The sheriff's office put out a PTA and requested any information based specifically on his mannerisms from the footage. Cops were everywhere questioning people out and about and patrolling the city. HAPPY he was caught.

  • isaiit

    I peeped that too.

  • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!

    questions that need answers, smh.... in Florida, everybody's "carrying"

  • Renee26

    Ok, I found more details....same type of gun purchased 2 days before 1st murder...cell phone pings in the areas of all murders (same neighborhood though) ...blood found on his clothing that matched the description of clothing the perp wore. Yeah that's enough to raise suspicion

  • WutizaGRANNY!

    Uuuhh first off..what serial killer tell someone..look hold this here evidence while I run n cash my check for the bullets in the gun thats not in the book bag I don't want you to look into..what?!!

  • Renee26

    Twirling the phone yeah that's not common...and that pimp stride are easy ways to recognize somebody you know.

  • Renee26

    World's Dumbest Criminals

  • justlooking

    Offtopic - MATT LAUhER FIRED!

    GOOD, He was the because of them getting rid of my boo Ann Curry.

    SO long SUCKA

  • Indies beauty

    Your the MVP for that link. I was relieved they caught him. Florida is pretty connected so when something like this happens in a major city. It puts us all on alert. Especially here in Orlando with all the things we deal with.

  • WutizaGRANNY!

    Or world dumbest system. Unless he wanted to get caught..who is smart enough to get off 4 deaths but dumb enough to just give the evidence to a UNKNOWN person to hold? This is fishy to me. I got a railroad he about to board. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Peabo BurgerFlipper who is the killer and pawning it off on old dude.. You just don't trust a stranger like that with your personal property..

  • Roderick2011

    I posted the same thing on bossip.
    Karma may not get you today or tomorrow but she will find you.

  • Indies beauty

    It was him. Why try to protect the criminal? Did you not read your own link?

  • Jen_no_juice

    Sooo if they haven't matched the gun how do they know if he's the serial killer? Did he leave DNA or confess?

  • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!

    girl, yes!

    and i swear when it was reported just how many millions Fox had spent on harrassment cases (not just Bill) , i immediately thought of Lauer, because he's been holding court on Today AND was known for cheating on his wife from YEARS back!

  • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!

    that last part! folks don't believe though, smh

  • Roderick2011

    Whether people believe in karma she exists.

  • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!

    NEW POST ON MATT LAUER.... DRAG HIM!!!!!!!!!!!

  • justlooking


  • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!

    yes, whatever you call it, reaping what you sow is a universal law!

  • shun king

    these folks on here would release him and wait till somebody record him killing again with an iPhone before they believe he did it

  • Mr.LeBrickJames

    Not good. Lets leave the serial killing to the white folks. :-|

  • justlooking

    Yes, learned that as a young child, what comes around goes around. Grandma circa '75

    the stars
    way the cookie crumbles

    It's called many things, the ending is the same. There is no need for revenge just sit back and wait those that do you wrong or mean you ill, will eventually screw themselves.

  • Indies beauty

    Seriously. This comment section is embarrassing. What happened to discernment?

  • Vicki White

    What happens when you always suggest that white folks are serial killers only and then a blk fool come along and prove them wrong. Ain't nobody mad but the devil. He did it he caught thank God.

  • AnotherBlackGirl

    If he is the killer I'm glad they caught him. May the victims RIP.

  • Lovely1

    I was in Tampa that weekend, visiting a friend. We went to Ybor City!! How crazy, man. The town put me in the mind of Savannah's River Street. We hung out at a cigar lounge and walked around the city, but as it got dark, I was over it. smh So glad they caught him.

  • Lovely1

    Tampa is such a beautiful city. As I returned home, I was so shocked that this was happening right around me as we toured the city together. Wow, man.

  • Lacey Dadrey

    A black man killing mostly black people - what a pathetic piece of sh*t. Hopefully, this animal is the killer so that the people in the neighborhood can have peace. Much love to the McDonald’s employee who contacted the police.

  • hottlanta

    Glad they got him off the streets.

  • We Can Do This

    I need more proof.

    If he is the killer, he's an idiot. Here hold my bag, but don't look in it to a random stranger.

  • shun king

    i guess cause its very very rare for black people to kill anybody thats why they dont think he did it

  • hottlanta

    That is the first thing I saw. Did also you see where they got these 2 tourists over in Thailand showing their butts in front of a temple and they got those azzes in jail. Is Dump gonna get them out, request a "Thank You" and if he don't get it proper is he gonna call them "ignorant fools". The name of their website is called "Traveling Butts" where they go around the world and take photos of their butts.

  • Quitedeliteful

    I'm with you on that!!!

  • Quitedeliteful

    Whuuut??? Gotta look this up...

  • Simone

    I feel you... I don't know if I would have look in the bag. Let alone hold a bag for a stranger. But anyways good work.
    Funny how things work out.

  • Miss Thang

    they are not going to release details to the public that easily. THey will wait for trial.

  • BeUtFullSoul

    IS he the Tampa serial killer... is it DEFINITE?..IF so, good...IF NOT...the people of Tampa are still in danger and need not let their guard down just YET.

  • AnotherBlackGirl

    He's not the first Black serial killer. The first known Black serial killer was a man named Alton Coleman who terrorized the northern suburbs of Chicago in the 80s. He killed and raped little girls for years in the area. He then went on a killing spree one summer where he went to 7 different states shooting and killing people at random. He and his female companion were apprehended at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois with a gun in their bag. I believe he was executed on death row in 2002.The female is serving a life sentence in an Indiana prison.

  • Soda

    So it wasn't good old fashioned police work that caught him, just nosiness?

  • shun king

    This is shocking:In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore’s 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state’s mathematics exam. In six other high schools, only 1 percent tested proficient in math. In raw numbers, 3,804 Baltimore students took the state’s math test, and 14 tested proficient

  • shun king

    you shocked? that happens every day around the clock every hour on the hour

  • Karen Brady

    THANK GOD!!!!!!!! I still can't believe no one recognized his gait in that first video that was released. And they have enough evidence.. murdering bastard. 4 innocent people gone for what?! SN: Did this jackass want to get caught? He knew what he was doing when he told her not to look in the bag. Anyway, glad she did and spoke up. Bye-Bye!

  • Indies beauty

    Thats sad. The validity of the test maybe off, Fl had to revamp our whole FCAT testing system to subject test because of validity. Whatever the case, the school system and parents dropped the ball.

  • RealATLPeach36


    I think he wanted to get caught. And I would NOT look in the bag especially if he told me not to, actually I would not take the bag to begin with...

    But then again with my life set-up he probably would have shot me for minding my business...

  • Elevated Soul

    This is beyond good that this serial killer was caught.I got fam in Tampa and they have been worried and took precautions and will continue to do so....

    Contrary to ignorant belief,there are Black serial killer and most of the time,their victims are Black females of any age....

  • Readytochokemothernatureout

    Glad he's caught and prayers for those families he changed forever....

  • Quitedeliteful

    This story sounds fishy... Hopefully folks stay vigilant and careful until the authorities are 100% sure he's the one. Either way, dude is not wrapped too tight and I'm glad he's off the street...

  • Kim’s Original Face

    I am glad they got him off the street. Now the fake defense attorney in me ask these questions or maybe the write excluded all the facts out.

    1. Did he confess to the crimes?
    2. Was he arrested just for the gun or has been charged with all murder?
    3. How as he linked to the murders form this write up the most they have is the gun isnt there a charge for carrying a firearm not registered
    4. How long do ballistic test take to come back linking in to crime.

    I just hope they got the right one and havent left another person out there taking innocent lives. Prayers to these victim families.

  • Fred G sanford

    Don’t look in the bag means look in the bag you big dummy

  • klwbaby

    According to this write up, no he didn't confess. He was arrested at the moment just for the gun. He was linked because of surveillance footage. Ballistic tests vary because a bullet recovered during autopsy can be too damaged to say for certain it was fired from this particular gun. I doubt he was smart enough to do this but criminals sometimes alter their guns which makes matching them to a crime difficult.

  • Renee26

    Don't get smart with me because you chose to read my comments out of order. This particular comment you responded under clearly says that those both were characteristics that will help identify somebody.
    Yes, I posted a few comments before I read more details on other sites which weren't in the original write up on this here blog. It wasn't in support of no criminal ... after further reading I said Ok, I see the evidence and provided the link for anyone else who also had doubts (that they had the right guy) on this blog. I'm never going to act like police don't arrest and wrongfully convict people, so when the details don't add up to me I will continue to be a skeptic until I see further evidence.

  • Indies beauty

    Its not that deep. I was sharing my experiance and you added your opinion. I responded with mines.

  • We Can Do This


  • Karen Brady


  • Mrs. ??????????

    Hopefully Tampa isn't being lazy and have the right man....

  • Kayke

    Need more info. How is he linked to all the murders?!?

  • TheOwley

    You have to have your conceal carry and never leave the house without the company of Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. Now find the vein in this demon.

  • Trace da Ace

    He wanted to get caught...old dusty azz....oh well.....don't even try him in court....take him straight to the electric chair and fry his azz.....Cajun style....

  • MsVAllDay

    He was ready! Ain't no way in the hail.

  • Liah


  • Karen Brady

    Cajun style... on. the.. floor.

  • Lorenzo Chaps

    Bruh you killed four people at random. Their families will never see them again. Why did you do this? You hated your own life this much?

  • Oh Tommie

    It's hard to tell if it's him in the surveillance video, but the suspect was described as 6'1 and light skinned....this dude is 5'10 and black as hayle. They MUST have something on him that they're not releasing yet....just HAVING a gun ain't enough. So many questions....

  • Courtney Wheeler

    I swear

  • dontgetblocked

    Who named their daughter Peabo?

  • Hmmm~?

    Why would Peabo put her name out like that? She openly admitted to snitching on someone that likely has gang affiliation. Hope she gets in witness protection.

  • Li

    Update: The bullets match. The reason the girl revealed her name was there was a reward, a big reward.

  • Li

    There was a big reward. She's going to claim it and leave the state.
    How do you know he has gang affiliation?

  • Hmmm~?

    I don’t. That’s why I said “likely”. And gow do you know she plans to leave? That still ain’t gonna stop them from tracking her down.

  • Yashara Bat Orion

    Journalism is terrible these days. There are more unanswered questions than answers after reading this.

  • Jussjess25

    Thank you so much!! Im completely confused

  • Jussjess25

    Exactly !

  • Jussjess25

    Lol not to me, I woulda been dead scared that something was going to jump out and crawl on me ????.. shiiit I woulda never been the wiser ??

  • Jussjess25

    Facts !

  • Maxima

    How do you go from being at St. Johns, graduate, work at McD's and become a serial killer.

    Schizophrenia is real. I don't know if his mother used drugs in the womb, but this is severe mental illness with a heavy dose of meanness.

    Well, it is FL so the needle awaits, even if it is 20 years from now.

  • Shaylove1975

    This story is all wrong thats not how it happened

  • Shaylove1975

    She only got 9000

  • Candance

    Only? I do the right thing all the time I wish someone would drop me a 9K check today!