Police in Tampa, Florida charged a man with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with a series of shooting deaths that authorities had said could be the work of a serial killer.
Acting on a tip, detectives recovered a gun and found the suspect, identified as Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, at the McDonald's restaurant in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood Tuesday, WFLA reported.
"Tonight is the beginning of when justice will be served, and then the process will occur when this individual rots in hell," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said during a Tuesday night press conference.
Police have said they believe the incident is connected to the recent murders in the Seminole Heights neighborhood, although they haven't said why.
"We have recovered other firearms before, so we will see,” Police Chief Brian Dugan said. “We’re going to go through this. We’re in it for the long haul. Let’s see where this leads.”
Residents and police had been on edge since Oct. 9, when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death. Two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa, was slain. And on Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was killed after taking the wrong bus home from his new job. On Nov. 14, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was killed.
All of the October victims were either getting on or off a city bus, or were at a bus stop when they were shot, police said.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that a McDonald's employee said Donaldson was a fellow co-worker.
The employee said the co-worker handed a manager a gun and left to visit an Amscot. When the co-worker returned, Tampa police were waiting.
Dugan said the department had received more than 5,000 tips. He thanked those who called in the tip that led to Donaldson's arrest.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott praised the effort of Tampa law enforcement, one week after visiting the area.
"As a father and a grandfather, it is unimaginable what the families of these victims are going through. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them, and we will work to ensure that they receive the justice they deserve," Scott wrote in a statement. "In Florida, we have absolutely zero tolerance for this type of evil behavior and anyone responsible will be held to the fullest extent of the law.”
CORRECTION (Nov. 29, 2017, 10:07 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this story misspelled Howell Emanuel Donaldson's name.