The Tampa Police Department released new video footage last week purportedly showing a person fleeing a murder scene in the city’s southeastern Seminole Heights neighborhood earlier this month.
Interim Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a press conference Thursday the department patched together images from multiple security cameras to create the nearly 2-minute video of a person in a black hooded sweatshirt walking down the street toward the bus stop where 22-year-old Benjamin Edward Mitchell was shot and killed Oct. 9 — the first in a string of three random shootings police say are linked.
“I’ve come up with four reasons why this person is running,” Dugan told reporters. “One, they may be late for dinner. Two, they’re out exercising. Three, they heard gunshots. And number four, they just murdered Benjamin Mitchell.”
Dugan encouraged neighborhood residents to study the footage and come forward with any identifying information. The person is not yet considered a suspect, Dugan clarified — just a “person of interest.”
“It appears that they are walking toward the area where Benjamin Mitchell was and then they are running from the scene,” Dugan said. “If that were me in that video, I have to believe that my neighbors would be able to identify me.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay upped the reward for information in the case to $35,000. The killer’s two other victims — Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32, and Anthony Naiboa, 20, died within 11 days of Mitchell. Naiboa’s body was discovered Oct. 20 just 200 yards the Ellicott Street bus stop where Mitchell was killed.
Anonymous tips can be submitted online through Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay or by calling 1-800-873-8477 (TIPS).