TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The homeowners who provided police with the eerie surveillance video of the hooded man accused in a string of fatal shootings that terrorized a Florida neighborhood during October and November now want a piece of the $110,000 reward.
Police in Tampa released the video that showed a man slowly walking down a Seminole Heights street just before an Oct. 9 shooting and then running in the opposite direction moments later.
The cameras are attached to Patrick and Kelly Holladay’s bungalow. They told the Tampa Bay Times it would have been nice to have shared in the reward. That money was given to a McDonald’s manager, Delonda Walker, who helped break the case when the suspect in the killings handed her a paper bag with a gun inside on Nov. 28. She showed it to a police officer who was in the restaurant.
Howell Donaldson III was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton.
Most of the donors who contributed to the reward fund conferred with Tampa police before Chief Brian Dugan and Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that Walker would get the money.
“I was not amused that we weren’t considered for anything,” said Kelly Holladay, 50. “We put ourselves in jeopardy and helped police immensely. I hate to say these words but we might seek legal advice.”
Police spokesman Steve Hegarty said the decision was made “to give it to the person whose actions led directly to the arrest of the suspect.”
The Holladays argue that their video was all police had to go on for several weeks.
According to police, snippets of the Holladays’ video show Donaldson in the moments before and after the shooting of Michell, 22, as he waited for a bus less than a block from the couple’s home.
Kelly Holladay said she was sitting in the kitchen that night, where a monitor feeds display feeds from the seven cameras on their property in Seminole Heights. She saw a tall, slim figure running across one of the screens.
“I told Pat, you should see this guy, he was running like he was being chased,” she said.
While they didn’t hear gunshots, a neighbor did. When police arrived, the Holladays waved them over and told them about the man. They showed officers the footage. Detectives stopped by later and downloaded their video archive.
Four days later, police released the first video of the man, calling him a person of interest. A week later, they released video of the man running in the opposite direction.
“The only thing they kept showing was our video,” Kelly Holladay said.
After Donaldson was arrested, she called Crime Stoppers and wrote a letter to the police chief, making their case for the reward money.
“We felt like both Dugan and the mayor kind of downplayed the role we played in it,” said Patrick Holladay, 74. “They said they got 5,000 tips, like ours was worth no more than the others.”
The restaurant manager was the appropriate recipient for the $5,000 put up by Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, said president Debbie Carter.
“They provided the video but the person responsible for the arrest was the manager at McDonald’s,” Carter said.