A McDonald’s manager who turned in a gun that led to the arrest of a Tampa serial killer has been awarded $110,000.
“And she will receive every penny,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a press conference Friday.
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, a McDonald’s crew leader, was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder after his manager, Delonda Walker, reached out to a nearby police officer on Tuesday.
During his shift, Donaldson, 24, handed a loaded 9mm handgun inside a McDonald’s bag to one of his co-workers. He asked the worker to hold it while he went to an Amscot money superstore to get a payday loan, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
That’s when Walker knew something wasn’t right and reached out to the police officer, police said. When Donaldson returned that afternoon, he was greeted by officers, who took him in for questioning. Late Tuesday, Tampa police announced that Donaldson would be arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder stemming from four shooting deaths in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa.
“This is the only arrest. He did it, that’s the way it goes,” Dugan said the next day. Officials say ballistics tests linked the murders to Donaldson’s gun. His cellphone location data matched the locations of the first three shootings, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Police did not release details about the arrest, citing the open investigation. Dugan said the department had received “over 5,000 tips” since the murders began 51 days ago.
Walker in a statement said “receiving a reward never entered my mind.”
“I went to work on Tuesday intending to serve customers and do my job. The day turned out very differently,” she said in a statement read by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at the Friday press conference.
But giving police that crime tip was an eerie one for McDonald’s staff, who had previously teased Donaldson about how he resembled the serial killer, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Colleagues said he looked like the shadowy figure in a hoodie police had released in a surveillance footage.
“I called him the killer to his face,” one employee told the media outlet. “He didn’t like that.”
The killings began on Oct. 9 with the shooting death of Benjamin Mitchell, 22, who was at a bus stop in front of his home. The second victim, Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed on Oct. 11. Her body was found two days later by a city employee in a vacant parking lot half a mile from where Mitchell was slain, the Bradenton Herald reported.
On Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old with autism who had just graduated from high school, was found shot to death about 50 feet away from the bus stop where Mitchell died. Ronald Felton, 60, was the fourth victim. He was found Nov. 14.
“It was a dark chapter in Tampa’s history, but now that darkness has been removed,” Buckhorn said Friday.
On Thursday, Donaldson was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, records show. He’s being held at the Hillsborough County Jail on no bond.
Donaldson, shackled and in a blue anti-suicide vest, appeared in court before Tampa Judge Margaret R. Taylor via video, reported the Associated Press.
The victims’ families watched from the courtroom in tears.