The mayor of Tampa told police officers looking for a suspect in three fatal and apparently random shootings in one neighborhood to hunt him down and "bring his head to me," as new surveillance video of a "person of interest" was released Thursday.
News outlets report that Mayor Bob Buckhorn addressed the officers Wednesday afternoon during a roll call in the Seminole Heights neighborhood where two men and one woman have been gunned down while walking since Oct. 9.
Buckhorn and interim police Chief Brian Dugan told the officers they've brought "a sense of calmness" to the terrorized neighborhood. Then, officers headed out by patrol car, bicycle and on foot to resume patrols.
On Thursday, police released new video related to the investigation at a news conference.
The video was taken the night of the first shooting in Tampa. It shows a person in a hooded top running away from the neighborhood within seconds of the slaying.
Dugan said that detectives want to talk to the "person of interest" in the video. At one point, the person seems to be holding an object. The person in the video is similar to someone in an earlier video released by officers — only in the latest video, the figure is seen running in long strides down a street.
"I've come up with four reasons why this person is running," Dugan said. "One, they may be late for dinner. Two, they're out exercising. Three, they heard gunshots. And number four, they just murdered Benjamin Mitchell."
The 22-year-old Mitchell was the first person shot on Oct. 9. Two days later 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 in the neighborhood actually heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene to find Naiboa dead.
All three victims, who didn't know each other, rode the bus and were alone when they were shot on the street, authorities said. None of the victims was robbed.
Over the past few weeks, Tampa Electric Co. and public works teams have been cutting foliage, boarding up vacant buildings and replaced burnt-out street lights in the area, the mayor said.
"We're going to shine a very, very bright light on this community," Buckhorn said.
Police have asked residents to keep porch lights on in the neighborhood at night.
The chief promised nervous parents that the community will be safe for Halloween next week.
"I'm gonna go out there," he said. "I'll be personally on patrol, and you know what? If somebody wants to walk with me, they can walk with me. I'll walk with their family and get candy with them. I might even take some of their candy."