A recent college graduate who is charged in four slayings that terrorized a Tampa neighborhood over the past 51 days used the same gun in all of the shootings and targeted people near bus stops with "no apparent motive," a police chief said Wednesday. The crack in the case came Tuesday when Howell Emanuel Donaldson, 24, brought a bag with a loaded handgun to his job at a McDonald's and asked a co-worker to hold it while he went across the street to get a payday loan, authorities said. Restaurant workers thought that was odd and when Donaldson left, they reported the gun to a police officer who was doing paperwork there, setting off an investigation that linked Donaldson to the shootings. When Donaldson returned to the McDonald's, police were waiting.
"The gun is what we needed," Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a news conference. Aside from matching shell casings at the shootings, authorities said location data from Donaldson's cellphone put him at the scene of at least three of the killings. Donaldson bought the gun from Shooter's World in Tampa on Oct. 3 along with a 20-round box of bullets. The first killing happened six days later. Detective Austin Hill wrote in a police report that Donaldson told investigators "no one, except for himself had control of the Glock firearm since his purchase." He said he was unfamiliar with the Seminole Heights neighborhood where the shootings occurred. Donaldson, who graduated from St. Johns University in New York in January 2017, has a hearing on Thursday, reports the AP.