McDonald's manager to receive 'every penny' of reward money
TAMPA, Fla. - The McDonald's manager who helped police track down the suspect in the murders of four people in Seminole Heights says getting a reward never entered her mind when she approached the Tampa police officer.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced Friday that Delonda Walker will receive the full $110,000 reward for the information she provided to a Tampa police officer, which led to the arrest of Howell Donaldson III, a former employee of the McDonald's in Ybor City. "She's going to receive every penny of that," said Chief Dugan, who was joined by the mayor and family members of the victims.
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Tuesday afternoon, Walker tipped off a police officer inside the restaurant that Donaldson handed her a gun in a bag before leaving the restaurant briefly.
His gun, which matched the weapon used in all four murders in Seminole Heights, led to his arrest.
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Despite her tip to police instead of the Crime Stoppers line, Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay announced Thursday it will still reward Walker with the $5,000 it had pledged. The remaining reward money comes from national and local agencies and private individuals, including restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, who delivered his check for $9,000 to Walker in person on Wednesday.
Walker has not wanted to speak on camera, but has released a statement and asked for everyone to respect her privacy. "This woman made the right choice and today we are a safer community because Ms. Walker did the right thing," said Mayor Buckhorn. "If there was no reward, she would have made the same decision. She is what's right about this city," he said.
"I went to work on Tuesday intending to serve customers and to do my job," Walker said in a statement read by Mayor Buckhorn. "When confronted with this situation, I wanted to do the right thing," she said. "Receiving a reward never entered my mind. Looking back, I am grateful to know I was helpful in assisting law enforcement. Please know I appreciate all the well wishes and kind words from our community," she said.
The reward announcement comes more than 50 days after the first murder occurred in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in October. Benjamin Mitchell was gunned down, followed by Monica Hoffa on October 11, Anthony Naiboa on October 19, and Ronald Felton on November 14.
The community was on edge because of the murders, which all occurred within a small radius. Police analyzed more than 5,000 tips, but after weeks of scouring the community and combing through surveillance video, had no suspects until Donaldson handed Walker the bag before telling her he wanted to leave the state.
A search of Donaldson's car turned up clothing similar to the clothing worn by a suspect captured on surveillance video, along with a suspected blood stain on the clothes.
He is now being held in the Hillsborough County Jail without bond on four counts of first-degree murder.