TAMPA (FOX 13) - Residents of the Seminole Heights neighborhood are concerned as Tampa police are now linking two murder cases.
A man and woman, Benjamin Mitchell and Monica Hoffa, were killed on separate days but only blocks apart according to investigators. Now officials are warning the community to be on alert for the suspect or another potential attack.
“I was in complete shock when you told me I had no idea,” said resident Rachael Laurent.
Laurent lives only a few blocks from the vacant field where city workers found the body of 32-year-old Hoffa last Friday morning. She also lives near the bus stop where 21-year-old Mitchell was shot and killed more than a week ago.
“It's bad when you hear about it elsewhere but seeing it in your own backyard it strikes a little bit more of a chord closer to home,” she said. “I don't necessarily feel comfortable out in the neighborhood late at night or even after it's gone dark especially if I'm by myself.”
Tampa police confirmed they do believe the same person is responsible for shooting both Hoffa and Mitchell. However, officials do not think the two victims had any connection to one another and exactly why they were killed, investigators say, makes no sense right now.
“In addition to the relatively close time frame, the proximity of the shootings, the nature of the two shootings, it has led our detectives to believe they are related,” said Interim Chief Brian Dugan. “These are people who aren't living a lifestyle that would lead to the fact they may end up getting murdered.”
He fits the description of a man witnesses saw walking in the area at the time Mitchell was killed. Although at this point, the man has not been called a suspect or even person of interest.
Police are urging residents to not walk alone at night and to keep on any outside lights.