Victims' relatives response to Seminole Heights arrest: Relief, determination

Those closest to the four victims want the man who took their loved ones' lives to pay.

TAMPA, Fla. -- While people living in Seminole Heights are been breathing a sigh of relief, no one has been more impacted by the news of an arrest then the families of those killed.

The first victim, Benjamin Mitchell, was gunned down Oct 9 at a bus stop along 15th Street near Frierson Avenue.

Through the front door, a family friend said Mitchell’s relatives, who live just a block away from where he was killed, were relieved to hear an arrest had been made. His aunt, who’d spoken shortly after Mitchell’s death, had been told late Tuesday.

“She was happy that it finally came to a conclusion,” said the person who’d answered the door.

But the family was also shocked to find out Mitchell and the suspect, Howell Donaldson III, might have known each other.  

“They actually knew the killer,” said Stan Lasater, a community activist who has been in close contact with the victims’ families. “I guess their kids had gone to school or something together. But there was some prior knowledge of the killer.”

Two days after Mitchell was killed, Monica Hoffa was shot in an open field just a couple of blocks away.

Hoffa's father, Kenny, drove all the way from South Carolina on Wednesday morning to tearfully and personally thank investigators for their work.

Hoffa's uncle Robert, speaking for their family, said Monica's killer should pay the ultimate price. 

“I'd like to take care of what needs to be done myself. But I don't even want to say a word to him. He needs to be put to death,” said Hoffa.

Eight days after Hoffa’s murder, and just two blocks from where Benjamin Mitchell had been killed, Anthony Naiboa was shot to death after getting off a city bus.

Naiboa's family had publicly criticized the Tampa Police Department’s investigation.

On Wednesday, they were grateful -- their anger, now reserved for the alleged killer. 

“There is always going to be a wound inside and out,” said Naiboa’s father Casimar. “The wound is always going to be there. The pain.”

“I felt relief. Because, when I come out the door, I don't have to look behind my back every two seconds now,” said Naiboa’s sister, Karen, who was going to visit his memorial along 15th Street. “And when I went to go see my brother it was hard, because that's the only way I get to see him now.”

On Nov. 14, the fourth victim, Ronald Felton, was shot as he went to cross Nebraska Avenue near a ministry where he'd helped to feed the homeless. 

“The pain I felt yesterday I don't feel as much today. Because now my brother can rest in peace,” said Felton’s older sister, Tina.

Tina Felton says she's relieved for the community. But she also had a stinging message for the man accused of killing her younger brother.

“When you shot my brother, and you walked off and you left my brother to die, you didn't feel sorry for him. You didn't feel bad for him,” said Felton. “

“Rot in hell,” she said. “Feel what I feel. Let your family feel the hurt that I felt.”

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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