TAMPA, Fla. – Putting on his red beret, Andy Nash says he knows full well what he’s getting himself into by volunteering to patrol the streets of Seminole Heights with a suspected killer on the loose.
“We take a risk, we know that our lives could be put in danger,” Nash said, whose street name is “Crash.”
“But we have to be a little bit fearless.”
In a community where it might be easy to feel fearful, volunteers with the Guardian Angels Tampa Bay chapter say they must remain fearless as they continue to monitor the neighborhood day and night following four murders within the past month.
A group of three Angels hit the streets at 4:30 a.m. Friday, walking an area near Nebraska Avenue, the same spot where 60-year-old Ronald Felton was shot and killed earlier this week.
The Friday morning patrol marked Nash’s fourth time out with the Angels. He recently joined the group after seeing them on the news. Like many of the Angels, Nash said he has a background in self-defense—including mixed martial arts.
“We’ve got to stay persistent,” Nash told 10News. “He’s persistent so we’ve got to keep up with the game.”
The Angels said they’re not necessarily out searching for the killer. Their primary mission is to keep an eye on others, said Raymond “Nikon” Fragnon, especially when people are walking alone.
“The police can’t do it all by themselves,” Fragnon said. “They’re always encouraging community watches, getting citizens involved, they ask everyone for help. We’re just offering that, but in a more organized manner.”
All of the Angels have day jobs, Fragnon said, so they volunteer and coordinate patrols when they can. While they don’t have the manpower to escort people through the neighborhood upon request, they will stop and walk with someone if they see they are alone, according to Fragnon.
To the critics who say they’re taking an unnecessary risk by being out in the streets after dark, Fragnon says the alternative isn’t an option for the group.
“I mean, would you tell the community that since this is happening to board up their house and move away? No, you’ve got to fight,” he said.
Collectively, the Guardian Angels estimate they have logged roughly 500 miles walking through the Seminole Heights neighborhood since October, Fragnon said.
Photos: Seminole Heights shooting victims
The Guardian Angels were started by Curtis Sliwa in New York City in 1979 and have grown into an international organization with chapters in more than 130 cities. The Tampa Bay chapter, which includes more than 150 members, also regularly patrols areas in Ybor City and St. Petersburg.
A reward for information leading the an arrest and conviction in the Seminole Heights killings now stands at $100,000. Anyone with information on the Seminole Heights murders is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 873-8477.
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