Business slow with killer on the loose in Seminole Heights

- The fourth murder in Seminole Heights has people in and around the neighborhood changing their routines for safety.

For many businesses in the area, that means fewer customers are stopping by, possibly out of fear.

Wednesday was another slow day at Moates Florist on North Nebraska Avenue.

On Tuesday morning, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was found shot and killed while volunteering at a food pantry next door to the shop. By Wednesday, customers were nowhere to be found.

"Unfortunately, people are not patronizing the Seminole Heights businesses. I can say for sure that our walk-in traffic has gone down tremendously, Well over 50 percent," said Lajuanda Barrera, the owner of Moates Florist.

Barrera said business was just starting to return to normal after a third shooting victim was found a few blocks from her shop nearly a month ago. She is now, once again, hesitant to tell potential customers where she is located when they call.

"I've noticed that I will now say, 'Moates Florist off of Hillsborough [Avenue],' and just kind of give them a more general location. Prior to that, I would always say, 'Moates Florist in Seminole Heights,'" said Barrera.

The four deadly shootings, all still unsolved, have neighbors on edge. Some, like Gloria Miller, have changed their routines.

"I walked my dogs at night, but because of [the shootings], I walk them earlier. I bring them to the park. When I take out my trash, now I have to wait until it's daylight," said Miller.

Tampa police have significantly increased their presence in Seminole Heights, with marked and unmarked police vehicles patrolling the area day and night.

During a walk through the neighborhood on Wednesday morning, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said his thoughts have been with the victims' families for the nearly two months they've gone without answers.

"It's anger and frustration. You feel for those four families whose lives have been ripped apart," said Mayor Buckhorn.

Directing his words to the shooting suspect, he added, "Ruining people's lives and destroying people's families, there's no need for it. We're coming. We're going to get you. You're going to regret it."

Barrera, meanwhile, bought new surveillance cameras for her flower shop in hopes of helping officers catch the murderer and bring back her business.

"I'm hoping that installing them is going to be able to provide good information," said Barrera.

Anyone with information on the unsolved shootings is urged to contact Tampa police.

A reward for an arrest has increased to $91,000.

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