Tampa police 'optimistic' new tip is connected to string of shooting deaths
TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa police are "optimistic" that a tip that led them to a McDonald's to investigate a person with a gun is connected to the recent string of homicides in the city's Seminole Heights neighborhood.
Police responded to the McDonald's in Ybor City at 2:45 p.m. after receiving the tip and confronted the person who had the gun, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said in a press conference. They are now interviewing the individual at police headquarters, but Dugan reminded reporters that he or she could be "completely innocent," stressing that the individual is neither under arrest nor in police custody, Dugan said.
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"We'll see what type of answers this person has for us," Dugan said.
Aerial footage from above the McDonald's showed officers gathering near police tape surrounding the parking lot.
When asked by a reporter whether he believes whether Tuesday's investigation was related to the Seminole Heights killings, Dugan responded, "Yes, I believe this has to do with Seminole Heights."
"I'm optimistic on this one, but only time will tell," he said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Police recovered a gun from the individual, but it is not clear if that gun is connected to the killings, Dugan said.
There will be a police presence in the neighborhood this evening, Dugan said, urging that people still use caution.
Three people were shot and killed between Oct. 9 and Oct. 19, and a fourth person, 60-year-old Ronald Felton, was killed in the early morning hours of Nov. 14.
After Felton's death, police released surveillance video of a man taken right before Felton was killed, which appears to show the same person seen in surveillance video taken on Oct. 9 right after the first victim, 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell, was killed, police said.
A reward for information leading to an arrest was raised to $100,000 days after Felton was killed.
Police have received more than 5,000 tips, Dugan said.