Gun in McDonald's bag leads to arrest of suspected serial killer
TAMPA (FOX 13) - Since the arrest of a man Tampa police believe to be the Seminole Heights serial killer, the question remains: Is anyone eligible for the $110,000 reward?
A McDonald's manager tipped off a police officer inside the restaurant on Tuesday afternoon that her coworker, Howell Donaldson III, handed her a gun in a bag before leaving the restaurant briefly.
"That was the bit of information that we were looking for. That is what we needed," said Police Chief Brian Dugan on Wednesday.
The woman's tip helped officers get possession of Donaldson's gun, which matches the weapon used in all four murders in Seminole Heights.
Tampa Police said they're still working to determine how much of the $110,000 the woman will be able to receive since she did not submit her tip through Crimestoppers.
According to the Crimestoppers of Tampa Bay website, "Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay will not pay rewards for information provided through any source other than tips submitted directly to its program via its anonymous tip line, website, text tipping program, or the Tipsubmit mobile app."
Of the $110,000, only $5,000 came directly from Crimestoppers.
$80,000 came from law enforcement partners, including the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Community groups, like Rise Tampa, pledged $6,000. The David Straz Jr. Foundation pledged $10,000. Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart pledged $9,000.
Chief Dugan said, "We are going to sift through everything and see what reward will be appropriate."
On Wednesday, Gonzmart made good on his promise. He wrote a check for $9,000 and hand-delivered it to the Ybor City McDonald's where Donaldson worked to present it to the manager who he called a hero.
"She didn't know what to say. She didn't expect anything. I don't think she did it for a reward. That's what makes it even more special," said Gonzmart after handing the woman a check and inviting her to have dinner with her family of six at any of his Tampa restaurants.
The manager, Delonda Walker, did not want to talk on camera, but she wrote a statement that reads:
"As you can imagine, I am overwhelmed and surprised by yesterday's events and I understand why many are interested in speaking with me. At this time, I am speaking exclusively with police and am appreciative that they were nearby and quickly acted upon the information I discovered and shared with the police officer. I am also appreciative of the outpouring of support from the community. My thoughts are focused on the victims and their families and out of respect for them and the active investigation, please direct inquiries to the Tampa Police Department."
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