Seminole Heights transitioning back to normal life after arrest of killer

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It was 51 long days for the people of Southeast Seminole Heights, waiting for police to arrest a killer.

Now that Howell Donaldson III is behind bars, life is slowly transitioning back to normal for the community.

Wednesday was their first full night without worry, the first time in 7 weeks that people could walk freely in the streets after the sun went down, not worried that a serial killer might target them next. What is most noticeable: more people out, fewer police cars.

When Tampa Police announced Tuesday at 11 p.m. that they had the killer locked up, the people of Seminole Heights were free.

"It was a feeling I can't really describe," said Steve Zinder, the Incoming President of the Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association. "A weight just lifted off of me."

"I literally almost cried. I could feel tears in my eyes just because I was so relieved," said Ron Simmons, owner of Ebisu Sushi Shack.

With hearts still heavy for the 4 victims, the community can now move forward.

"Now it's like we can get back to normal everyday things," said Kyle Taylor as he played with his dog, Goose at the dog park.

Things as simple as walking the dog at night.

"We live right across the street," Taylor said. "We couldn't even come to this dog park because it's right in the heart of this area,:

Over at Giddens Park, the basketball court is full of life.

"Ya'll can come through, ya'll ain't gotta be scared," said Tae as he laced up his shoes. "I feel happier for the kids, though. They should probably feel safe. I'm not worried. Everybody out here isn't worried."

At restaurants, the conversation is lighter. The outdoor seats at Ella's were filled. And at Ebisu Sushi Shack Simmons said, "It's over."

Those two words mean everything.

"Before I was scared to take the garbage out and now, we're just happy that it's over," said Simmons.

Steve Ziner sat outside Ebisu, the dark, handing out pre-ordered "We Are Seminole Heights" shirts. Now, the darkness doesn't seem so dangerous.

"It was only a matter of time, and that time was yesterday," said Zinder. "Everybody's come together and we've been committed to not let this define us."