TAMPA (FOX 13) - Almost 100 people, about 50 bikes, and a handful of cars. A group hoping to help a community heal with a memorial ride for Monica Hoffa and the three other innocent victims gunned down in Southeast Seminole Heights.
"I never thought I’d be doing one for my own family,” said Robert Hoffa, Monica’s Uncle. “But you know what, if there's one thing I can support with all my heart and actually feel it deep down inside, and that's this one right here. And I’m so thankful to have everyone standing up behind us and the whole community being here."
Hoffa coordinated the remembrance ride. He says during the 51-days the serial killer was on the loose, Seminole Heights was under a cloud of darkness. Now with someone behind bars, Hoffa wants to bring the light back.
With a police escort, the parade of motorcycles rode into the neighborhood.
They went past the spots where Benjamin Mitchell, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton were gunned down. Stopping on New Orleans Avenue where Monica’s body was discovered.
The gesture heartwarming for Monica’s mother, as well as Anthony nabob’s parents and siblings who all got to witness the bikers riding in.
"We're not alone, we have additional family members now," Anthony’s Step-mother, Maria Rodriguez said.
But it wasn't just about the people. The businesses in Seminole Heights have been hurting too. So after the memorial ride, everyone in the pack ventured into the community to spend some money.
"They're all like mom and pop shops, and they really need the support of the neighborhood and the support of Tampa in general," said Courtney Bumgarner with the Southeast Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association.
For 10-hours Sunday, about 60 shops and restaurants took part in Light the Heights, a promotion to infuse customers into the area.
"I think it's great to be able to come out, get into the community,” said Michelle Robey from Land O’Lakes. “We're not from this area, so to get to experience this area, this part of town, is really great.
There were deals, specials and a free, festive trolley to shuttle folks around the neighborhood. Letting the light in their hearts and the lights for the season brighten up the darkness.
Organizers hope to make Light the Heights an annual holiday event.