Florida police warned residents of a possible serial killer in the Tampa neighborhood last week, telling residents not to walk alone at night after the third in a chain of murders over the past 10 days left an Autistic man dead from gunshot wounds.
“We have someone terrorizing the neighborhood,” Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said during a Friday news conference after 20-year-old Anthony Taino Naiboa was fatally shot Thursday night. Naiboa was found just 100 yards from where 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was killed days earlier, on Oct. 9. Another victim, 32-year-old Monica Caridad Hoffa was found dead in a vacant lot on Oct. 13.
Police said the three victims have no ties to one another, but they believe the killings are are linked by the same individual. Officers are blanketing the neighborhood, but investigators have made no arrests nor has anyone been declared a person of interest in the case.
“You can imagine the frustration of these officers to hear gunshots and not be able to find this person,” Dugan said. “He was in the prime of his life and was taken instantly.”
The Seminole Heights neighborhood community is shaken by the murders, the Naples Daily News reports, and over 100 residents gathered Sunday at each of the scenes where the victims were found, holding a vigil in their honor. There, Naiboa’s father reportedly said he does not fear his son’s killer, and said, “You won’t get away with it.”
Dugan said he is angry too, remarking at how quickly the killer was able to “vanish,” but he also said, “I’m convinced we are going to catch this person.”
Mitchell was waiting at a bus stop when he was killed. Hoffa was found in a dumpster in a vacant lot, also shot to death.
Police say they have been unable to determine a motive for the three shootings, and say the lack of motive, the proximity of the killings, and that the individuals were alone at the time of the attacks are signs the same person is likely responsible for each of the deaths.
Police are holding a community meeting Monday night to discuss the recent murders and instruct citizens on how to proceed safely. So far, they have told residents they need not be “held hostage” by fear.