4th person shot dead in Tampa in possible serial spree

A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during a candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. The deaths, which took place in the same neighborhood over the past 10 days, prompted Tampa police to warn residents in the Seminole Heights neighborhood not to walk alone at night.(Octavio Jones/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Police searched a cordoned-off Florida neighborhood Tuesday after a fourth person was shot dead, possibly by a serial killer.

Tampa police say residents of the city’s Seminole Heights neighborhood reported hearing shots just before 5 a.m. Tuesday. When officers arrived, they found the body of Ronald Felton, 60, in the street. They say Felton had been walking across the street to meet someone when the gunman came up behind him and fired.

Spokesman Steve Hegarty said detectives can’t immediately say whether Felton’s shooting is related to last month’s 10-day spree where three people were slain, but officers are treating it like it is. The previous three victims were alone and had gotten off a bus when they were gunned downed at night for no apparent reason. None was robbed.

Related: Tampa officials to trick-or-treat in hopes of soothing fears

“This has got to stop,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn told a news conference Tuesday. “We will hunt this person down until we find him.”

Cynthia Murray told The Tampa Bay Times that Felton had been living with her near the shooting scene. She said Felton was an unemployed construction worker who volunteered at the nearby food bank run by a church, which is just feet from where he was shot. She said he would go to the church at 2:30 a.m. to help.

Police urged Seminole Heights residents to stay inside Tuesday as they searched the area, which they sealed off shortly after the shooting. They said they are looking for a thin black man, about 6-feet tall, wearing black clothing and carrying a large handgun. They are asking residents to examine video from any security cameras they have.

Related: ‘No rhyme or reason’: Tampa scrambling to solve 3 mystery killings

Hegarty said the suspect couldn’t have “gone very far, and we’re talking to as many people as we can to see what they may have seen.”

Robert Clark told the Times he was in a nearby Laundromat with his girlfriend when he heard five shots, turned and saw a man run past. He said he went outside and saw Felton’s body.

After the earlier shootings, police increased patrols in the neighborhood and released surveillance videos of a hooded suspect. In a security video taken moments after Benjamin Mitchell became the first victim on Oct. 9, the suspect is running from the scene.

“I’ve come up with four reasons why this person is running,” Police Chief Brian Dugan said last month. “One, they may be late for dinner. Two, they’re out exercising. Three, they heard gunshots. And number four, they just murdered Benjamin Mitchell.”

Related Content: Serial killer fears: Area of Tampa on edge after 3 killings

Two days after Mitchell, 22, was shot, Monica Hoffa, 32, was gunned down. And on Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot after taking the wrong bus home from his new job. Police patrolling nearby heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene to find Naiboa dead.

Seminole Heights is a working-class neighborhood northeast of downtown Tampa that’s slowly becoming gentrified. Run-down homes sit next to renovated, historic bungalows, and trendy restaurants have sprung up near auto body shops.

Related: 3 killings in 11 days ‘terrorizing’ Tampa neighborhood, police say

Residents and business owners have said there are car burglaries and fights between kids, but nothing like this.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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