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Florida residents fear serial killer after shootings

Residents of a usually quiet Florida neighbourhood have been warned not to walk alone at night as police investigate three shootings they believe are linked.

The three people – two men and a woman – were shot and killed seemingly at random in the past two weeks.

Detectives say the shootings are linked by proximity and timeframe but they don't have a suspect or a motive.

All three victims rode the bus and were alone when they were shot within a one mile radius on the streets of the Seminole Heights area of Tampa.

They were not robbed and they did not know each other, police said. The two men were black and the woman was white.

Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22, was shot and killed on 9 October at around 9pm.

He had been waiting at a bus stop outside his home.

Image:Three people have been shot and killed in Seminole Heights, Tampa City, in less than two weeks

Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32, was shot and killed and her body found early on 13 October in an empty car park about half a mile away from where Mr Mitchell was killed.

Police think she was killed at some point during the previous few days.

Anthony Naiboa, 20, became the third victim on Thursday night.

Mr Naiboa, who had autism, had got on the wrong bus after work and ended up in the same area as the other two victims.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that police have been escorting children to school bus stops in the morning to keep them safe.

A meeting was held for residents on Monday night so they could hear from police and Tampa City's mayor Bob Buckhorn.

On Twitter after the meeting, Mr Buckhorn wrote: "For the men and women in the (Tampa Police Department) this is personal and were not going to stop until we catch this guy

"We're not leaving until we catch this guy but we need you to turn those lights on, we need you to tell us what you see.

"We have added over 1000 streetlights in Seminole Heights. You've seen our men out there. We're not stopping until we catch this guy.

"We can't replace the lives that were taken or replace the holes in some of these families but we can ensure that whoever did this pays."

Police have released images of the person they are trying to trace following the murders. Pic: Tampa Police Department
Image:Police have released images of the person they are trying to trace following the murders. Pic: Tampa Police Department

Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said he did not want residents to feel like they had to stay in their homes.

Speaking to 970-WFLA radio, he said: "We want people outside; this is not a bad neighbourhood.

"We need people outside telling us what's going on."

Asked if the perpetrator could be described as a serial killer, Mr Dugan said: "We can call it what we want… if that brings attention to it, that's fine."

But he later said the killer "could be multiple people".

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