Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of 400 who showed up at a meeting Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear, the Tampa Bay Times reports. “Everybody at this point is a suspect,” Dugan told the crowd. “If you are out there walking alone . . . you are either a suspect or a potential victim.” “Oh Jesus,” one woman said aloud. It started with the October 9 murder of 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell. A total of three victims — two men and a woman — have been gunned down at or near bus stops.
Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed October 11 and her body was found two days later. The next murder took place October 19, when police said Anthony Naiboa, 20, was killed about 200 yards south of where Mitchell was shot. Many attendees had to stand in the aisles to find out what police know about these crimes and how close officers are to catching whoever is responsible. No solid answers were offered, just reassurances that the Tampa Police Department and other agencies were doing everything they can to solve these crimes. “Everyone wants to know, ‘Is there a serial killer,’ ” Dugan said. “That’s the big question I get. I have purposely avoided that, because there is stereotyping associated with serial killers.” He added, “We don’t know who this person is. That’s the reality. We know we have three people murdered in half a mile of each other in 10 days, They were all walking alone. Probably minding their own business. Lord knows whoever is doing this.” Earlier Monday, police started escorting students to bus stops as they blanked the neighborhood.