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McDonald's food bag leads police to alleged serial killer

6 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Saturday, December 02 2017 Dec 2, 2017 December 02, 2017 4:17 PM December 02, 2017 in News
Source: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
Photo: ABC News

TAMPA, FL- A Florida police officer who was doing paperwork while sitting in a McDonald's restaurant got a tip that led authorities to the suspect accused of killing four people in random shootings over the past two months.

Twenty-four-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson was arrested Tuesday by Tampa police in the shooting deaths of four people. He has been charged with first-degree murder and detained after a tip that he had a gun at a McDonald's restaurant.

A witness approached a police officer at the McDonald's Tuesday afternoon to tell them that an employee, Donaldson, gave them a "McDonald's food bag" and said he planned to leave the state, according to a criminal report affidavit filed early today in Florida's Hillsborough County.

Inside the bag was a .40-caliber Glock firearm loaded with SIG brand Smith and Wesson ammunition -- the same weapon used in a string of mysterious slayings over the past six weeks in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood, officials said.

Donaldson attended St. John's University in Queens, graduating in January 2017. Police in New York said he had an arrest in 2014 for a minor crime, but the arrest was sealed. NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said police will go back through cold cases to see whether Donaldson could be linked to any crimes.

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The McDonald's general manager whose tip led police to the suspected killer will receive the entire $110,000 reward, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Friday.

"I went to work on Tuesday intending to serve customers and do my job. The day turned out very differently," she said. "When confronted with this situation, I wanted to do the right thing and I reached out to a nearby police officer."

Walker said she is "grateful" that she was able to assist law enforcement but requested privacy amid the ongoing investigation.

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