A couple in Tampa say police should reward them for providing the security camera footage used to help catch a serial killer roving the city’s Seminole Heights neighborhood last month.
Patrick Holliday told Channel 8 News the McDonalds employee — Delonda Walker — who handed over 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III’s gun to cops Nov. 28 wouldn’t have suspected him without the surveillance video Holliday shared with the public in October.
“The time stamp (showing the man) going one way agreed with the time stamp going the other way, with the murder in between. So that was a good indication that was something right there,” Holliday told the news station Monday. “I think we provided more (information) than the average person. McDonald’s wouldn’t have suspected him at all, and (wouldn’t have) teased him about looking like the killer, so I think our video played a very important role.”
Holliday said he checked his security camera after his wife spotted a man running past their house on the evening of Oct. 9, just moments after reports of shots fired nearby. When a review of the footage revealed the same man walking in the opposite direction — toward the bus stop where the first victim, 22-year-old Benjamin Edward Mitchell, was shot — he turned it over to Tampa police.
Police Chief Brian Dugan released the footage Oct. 26, calling the man in the video a person of interest. By then, two more people — 32-year-old Monica Caridad Hoffa and 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa — were shot and killed within a one mile radius of Mitchell’s murder.
Thousands of tips poured in over the next four weeks as the reward for information leading to the killer climbed into the tens of thousands.
The murder of 60-year-old Ronald Felton on Nov. 14 as he crossed the street to the food bank where he volunteered twice a week, however, spurred new leads in the case — including additional video footage of the same suspect.
Dugan said the discovery of the gun proved to be a turning point in the investigation.
“We’ve had tips before,” he said during a Nov. 29 news conference. “It was a heavy burden to start off as chief of police and to have four murders on your watch. That’s a tough pill to swallow. I will carry that for the rest of my life.”
“I assure you, this is the man who did this,” he added.
Police charged Donaldson with four counts of murder and said Walker will receive “every penny” of the $110,000 reward offered in the case.
“This woman made the right choice and today we are a safer community because Ms. Walker did the right thing,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “She doesn’t want any attention. If there was no reward, she would have done the same thing. She is what’s right about this city.”
Holliday told Channel 8 News he doesn’t think he’ll see any reward money, but a thank from city officials might be nice.
The Tampa Police Department said they already thanked the couple for the video.