Tampa police search for potential serial killer

Authorities in Florida warned members of the community that they “are either a suspect or a potential victim” following a string of unsolved murders over the course of the last several days.

“Everyone at this point is a suspect,” Interim Police Chief Brian Dugan told a crowd of about 400 people, who turned out at Edison Elementary School Monday evening to learn more about the series of killings.

Detectives in Tampa were still searching Tuesday for the person behind three murders in a Seminole Heights neighborhood, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The victims do not have an apparent link to each other aside from the fact that they were all fatally shot within a mile of each in the last several days.

RELATED: Tampa police hunt killer after similar murders

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Tampa police hunt killer after similar murders
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Tampa police hunt killer after similar murders

Three people were found murdered in less than two weeks in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, Florida.

(Photo via Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)

WATCH VID: https://t.co/XwauE5YCHG We believe this person may have ties to the Seminole Heights area. Contact… https://t.co/NjPn3wXu8b
WHO IS THIS? @TampaPD wants to find out if this person has anything to do with 3 murders in Seminole Heights:… https://t.co/pkDI63N8SF
Anthony Naiboa

(Photo via Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)
DEVELOPING - 3 bodies found in #SeminoleHeights within 1 mile of each other in 10 days time - are the cases linked?… https://t.co/K3DAwLiXBw

Monica Caridad Hoffa

(Photo via Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)

#BREAKING Just a couple blocks from the memorial of a man shot in #SeminoleHeights, another person found randomly s… https://t.co/t4rVqTYAhF

Benjamin Edward Mitchell

(Photo via Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)

Seminole Heights neighbors chanting "our streets" after three murders that appear to be random. https://t.co/HeDDe1bbiP
Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights https://t.co/0K9uxM5wA9
Tampa Police Dept. releases new video of person of interest in the killings of three people. https://t.co/qENafTaNOg https://t.co/fqXUDmHIUp
We have added over 1000 streetlights in Seminole Heights. You've seen our men out there. We're not stopping until we catch this guy.
.@CityofTampa crews are working around the clock in Southeast Seminole Heights to clear vacant lots/alleys to reduc… https://t.co/LF6ZysiLdn
Amid hunt for possible serial killer, Tampa Police release more video of person of interest. @KerryNBC reports now… https://t.co/Mjp9ltr1Gs
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“Everyone wants to know, ‘Is there a serial killer,’” Dugan said. “That’s the big question I get. I have purposely avoided that because there is stereotyping associated with serial killers.”

He continued on to say the department was still investigating and hoped the attention the case was receiving would help bring about additional answers.

“We don’t know who this person is,” he said. “That’s the reality. We know we have three people murdered in a half mile of of each other in 10 days. They were all walking alone. Probably minding their own business. Lord knows whoever is doing this.”

The first victim, Benjamin Mitchell, was shot and killed on Oct. 9 around 9 p.m. The 22-year-old was alone waiting at a bus stop, not far from his home, according to the Times.

Two days later, Monica Hoffa, 32, was fatally shot only ten blocks away. And Anthony Naiboa on Oct. 19 became the third victim. The 20-year-old had autism and mistakenly took the wrong bus home. He was shot just 100 yards away from where the frist victim was found.

Dugan said officers heard the gunfire while they were canvassing the area and found Naiboa — but they were too late.

RELATED: Serial killers who were never caught

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4 serial killers who were never caught
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4 serial killers who were never caught
The Texarkana Moonlight Murderer: The killer, who was never identified, is credited with terrorizing the town of Texarkana, Texas in 1946 by attacking eight people in ten weeks, creating panic.

Béla Kiss, the Vampire of Czinkota: This accused Hungarian serial killer is believed to have murdered at least two dozen women and kept their bodies in giant metal drums. He eluded police for years.

(Getty Images)

The Servant Girl Murders: Three years before Jack the Ripper began his deadly attacks across the ocean, a killer preyed upon the city of Austin, Texas in the 1880s. He would attack men and women in their beds, although not all of his victims died. According to reports more than 400 men were arrested over the years for the crimes, but no one was ever convicted.

(RapidEye via Getty Images)

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“We think they’re related. Through the proximity and the time frame they are related,” Dugan told reporters during a Friday press conference. “There is no doubt in our minds about that.”

Authorities so far have provided little information on a potential suspect. They recently released a grainy surveillance video that appeared to show a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt walking not far from where the slayings occurred.

Police in Tampa are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. They’ve also consulted the FBI and have reached out to St. Petersburg Police Department for help in the case.

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