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Tampa Police Hunt Killer After Three Eerily Similar Murders

Police are urging residents in Tampa’s Semionle Heights neighborhood to remain vigilant after three were killed there in less than two weeks.
Image: A crime scene is investigated as part of a potential serial killer pattern in Tampa, Florida.
A crime scene is investigated as part of a potential serial killer pattern in Tampa, Florida.NBC News

Three people were found murdered in less than two weeks in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, leading police to warn that a killer is on the loose.

The only thing connecting the crimes so far, officials said, are that they happened in the same neighborhood, and the victims shot were with a firearm when alone at night.

Officials are still searching for leads and do not yet have a motive for the killings, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said in a press conference Friday. When asked if he thought the murders could point to a possible serial killer, he said it was clear that the murders were linked.

“There’s proximity and time frame, they’re related, no doubt,” he said. “We are still sifting through evidence. We can call it what we want if it brings attention to this.”

Tampa Bay police are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest. They are urging residents to remain vigilant.

Related: Videos Show Dramatic Rescue of Rape Victim, Serial Killer Confessions

"We need everyone to come out at night, turn on their porch lights and just not tolerate this type of terrorism in a neighborhood," Dugan said. He added that the city refused to be “held hostage” by the killer.

Police on Friday identified 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa as a third victim. Dugan said Naboia, who was autistic, was killed late Thursday after he accidentally took the wrong bus from work.

A crime scene is investigated as part of a potential serial killer pattern in Tampa, Florida.NBC News

“Our officers were in the neighborhood, heard gunfire as they canvassed through the neighborhood. Fortunately one of our officers was able to find him, but it was too late,” Dugan said.

The second victim, Monica Hoffa, 32, was found dead in a vacant lot in the neighborhood on Oct. 11.

The man police believe to be the first victim, Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot and killed nearby on Oct. 9 while waiting for a bus. Naiboa was found 300 yards away, and police said all three homicides took place within a mile radius.

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Police have released surveillance video of the man they say is the alleged killer. Grainy footage shows a man walking through the streets wearing what appears to be a hooded shirt.

Residents in the Seminole Heights neighborhood marched through the community Friday, placing flowers and lighting candles at each of the three locations were the victims were killed.

"We want to come out to make a stand to whoever this horrible person is out there doing these things and let them know we will not relinquish our streets, this is our community," said resident Michelle Cookson. "We will not be terrorized."

Police are urging anyone with information to come forward, and are going door-to-door to nearby businesses asking to view any surveillance video of the neighborhood.

"A person needs to step forward, someone has to have a suspicion on someone," Dugan said. "If you're walking alone you're either a suspect, or a potential victim."

When asked if he had a message for the killer, Dugan said, “Enough is enough.”

“I don’t know what your motive is, but enough,” he said. “There’s been enough carnage.”

Kerry Sanders contributed.