Howell Donaldson

The suspect who was charged with 4 counts of first-degree murder in Tampa was teased by his McDonald’s co-workers.

Howell E. Donaldson III, 24, faces the death penalty if convicted. Donaldson was arrested Tuesday at the Ybor City McDonald’s where he worked.

Co-workers said they teased Donaldson over his resemblance to the serial killer who terrorized one Tampa neighborhood for 51 days.

“We would tease him and say he was the killer, because he looked like the pictures,” Gail Rogers told the Tampa Bay Times.

“I called him the killer to his face. He didn’t like that,” said Rogers, a four-year employee at the fast food restaurant.

The break in the case came when Donaldson, a crew chief at the McDonald’s, handed his manager, Peabo Johnson, a takeout bag containing a .40 caliber Glock handgun.

Donaldson allegedly told the manager not to look inside the bag. “He said he would text her what to do with it. My manager didn’t know what to do,” Rogers told The Times.

Johnson turned the bag over to Officer Randi Whitney, a police liaison to the homeless who was in the restaurant doing paperwork, according to

Police swarmed the restaurant and took Donaldson into custody.

Donaldson was “very friendly and nice” to the officers, but during an interrogation he requested a lawyer.

Police matched the gun to shell casings found at three of the four murder scenes.

Tampa residents wondered whether he handed the gun to his manager because he was tired of hiding from police.

But police Chief Brian Dugan doesn’t believe he wanted to turn himself in.

“I don’t think he wanted to get caught,” Dugan said. “He gave it to her for safekeeping.”