FBI searches homes in emotional Seminole Heights neighborhood

Home searches by heavily-armed FBI agents were both welcome and troubling for the emotionally raw residents of Seminole Heights. 

Their concerns were heard by police and leaders at a regularly-scheduled, more crowded than usual community meeting Tuesday night.

"Normally we have these meetings and we like to brag about how crime is down," said Police Chief Brian Dugan.

But Chief Dugan fielded questions about a fourth shooting victim, possibly being attributed to the same gunman as three previous shooting deaths in the area. In this case, the suspect disappeared quickly after shooting a man in the middle of an intersection.

"These are the initials of Monica, Benjamin, and Anthony. And sadly, I had to add the R for Ronnie today," said one attendee, who wore a ribbon on their shirt.

The search for the shooter now includes agents with the FBI and ATF, alongside officers with Tampa police.

Family members of the latest victim are still coming to grips with his death.

"You walk out your door and somebody just shoot you for no reason all he was doing was helping the homeless," the victim's sister, Tina Felton said.

Officials say 60-year-old Ronald Felton was shot dead early Tuesday morning as he crossed Nebraska Avenue. Investigators think the shooter snuck up from behind and fired. The victim collapsed only yards from the church where he volunteers at a food kitchen.

"I never would have thought this would happen you never know," said Ronald’s mother Aretha Jones.

"Since the second or third killing, we have all felt like he is getting away too quickly," said Stan Lasater, the president of the Southeast Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association. "He knows the neighborhood too well."

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It's been more than a month since the last shooting death. Neighbors say Tuesday's killing shattered the illusion that the killer was no longer interested in the area.


"He is trying to send a message that he is smarter than we are," said Cynthia Few. "I just think that he is deranged."

Investigators explain Felton's killing has similarities and differences compared to those of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, and Anthony Naiboa.

The three other murders happened at night, but Felton was killed close to 5 a.m. And a key component this time is that a witness was able to give a brief description of a possible suspect.

"She heard gunshots, looked up and they saw someone running," said TPD Chief Brian Dugan. "The safest thing to do is tell the people in the neighborhoods that we think this is related and there's someone or some people running around shooting people."


Police told neighbors to watch the streets closely, continue to come outside, and to keep the lights on. 

Throughout the day armed officers could be seen going door to door in neighborhood streets by air and ground, hoping to flush out the killer. His quick ability to escape has police thinking their target could live near or even in the community.

"It doesn't scare me and it doesn't scare our cops it just makes us more devoted to catching this guy," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

"It is such a hospitable neighborhood. We are so close-knit," said Lasater. "I can point to any house in our neighborhood to tell you who lives there, what they do for a living, how long they have been here."


Casimar Naiboa is now well-known in the community for the worst reason. His son, Anthony was the third person killed. Casimar came to Tuesday's meeting to ask for answers.

"I want justice for my son. My son was a good kid. We fight for him," he said. "It is my duty as a father."

Neighbors say the number one thing they need is to keep sharing information, hoping that someone will turn into a tip that can lead to an arrest.

Police say there could still be several people involved in the killings and they're urging people to use an abundance of caution when out especially during dark hours. The reward for information in the case is $41,000.