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Three killings in 11 days ‘terrorizing’ Tampa neighborhood, police say

Tampa Police Department/Facebook
Tampa Police Department/Facebook

(TAMPA, Fla.) — Police in Florida are searching for whoever is “terrorizing” a Tampa neighborhood after three people were shot and killed in the same vicinity in less than two weeks.

The latest slaying occurred Thursday night when Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old man with autism, was killed in the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood while on his way home from work, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Officers were patrolling the neighborhood when they heard the shots fired, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said in a news conference on Friday. After they canvassed the area, one of the officers found Naiboa.

“But it was too late,” Dugan said. “He was already dead when our police officers came upon him.”

It appears that Naiboa had taken the wrong bus to the neighborhood and was walking north to another bus stop when he was shot, Dugan said. His father had called the police department, “worried that his son was missing,” Dugan added.

“He should not have been in this neighborhood,” Dugan said of Naiboa.

Naiboa was the eldest of five children and had just graduated from Tampa’s George S. Middleton High School last year, Dugan said.

“He was in the prime of his life, and it has been taken instantly,” the police chief said.

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Naiboa was killed about 200 to 300 yards away from where 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was killed on Oct. 9, Dugan said. His body was found almost directly in front of Mitchell’s home, Dugan said.

Investigators are searching for a person who was seen in surveillance video near the area the night that Mitchell was killed.

“We don’t know if that is him, her or what, Dugan said. “Do not assume this is a white person, do not assume it’s a black person and do not assume it’s a male.”

On Oct. 13, the body of Monica Caridad Hoffa was found about a half mile from where Mitchell was found, Dugan said in a news conference Tuesday. Police believe she died Oct. 11.

After Hoffa’s body was found, police immediately linked her death to Mitchell’s because of the proximity of the shootings, but Dugan called the circumstances “unusual” with “no clear connection.” Authorities believe all three killings are linked because of when the shootings occurred and because all the victims were alone when they died.

None of the victims was connected to each other, police said.

Authorities have not yet determined any leads or motive for the killings and are offering $25,000 for information leading to an arrest, Dugan said. He described Mitchell as a “good person who comes from a good family” and said that while Hoffa “had some challenges in her life,” there is no reason to believe there was motive to kill her.

Police are instructing residents of the neighborhood to turn on their porch lights at night.

Dugan added that it’s not necessary to hide in their homes but to remain aware of their surroundings.

“Do cookouts, walk your dog,” he said. “We’re not going to be held hostage by whoever’s doing this.”

A heavy police presence will continue there, Dugan said, adding that the area has been “blanketed” with officers.

Police are not labeling the suspect as a serial killer at this point, and they are frustrated with the unsolved cases, Dugan said.

“This is, you know, very frustrating,” Dugan said. “I go from frustration to anger on these unsolved homicides. And now, we have someone who is terrorizing the neighborhood. It’s just difficult to see this happen.”

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