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The Latest: NYPD reviewing cases after Florida arrest

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 10:23 AM
Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 10:23 AM


            Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, talks with Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, center, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, outside Tampa Police Headquarters in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Scott's visit followed the announcement of the arrest in the Seminole Heights murders. (Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, talks with Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, center, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, outside Tampa Police Headquarters in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Scott's visit followed the announcement of the arrest in the Seminole Heights murders. (Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

The Latest on fatal shootings in a Tampa neighborhood (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

New York City police say they would like ballistics results of the gun used in the Tampa, Florida, killings to see if it matches any unsolved crimes in New York.

Twenty-four-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson was arrested Tuesday by Tampa police in the shooting deaths of four people. He has been charged with first-degree murder and detained after a tip that he had a gun at a McDonald's restaurant. They said he used the same gun for all the shootings.

Authorities say the gun was purchased in early October.

Donaldson attended St. John's University in Queens, graduating in January 2017. Police in New York said he had an arrest in 2014 for a minor crime, but the arrest was sealed.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said police will go back through cold cases to see whether Donaldson could be linked to any crimes.

Police officials are in contact with Tampa police.

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10:15 a.m.

The Tampa police chief says the suspect in four killings there used the same gun in all of the shootings.

Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a news conference Wednesday that 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson was cooperative with investigators but he did not tell authorities why he was doing this. The chief says at this point there is "no apparent motive."

Dugan said Donaldson admitted that he owned the gun that was turned over to police and cracked the case, but Donaldson did not admit to the killings.

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7:30 a.m.

Despite having a suspect in custody, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan says authorities still don't have a motive for a string of shootings in a neighborhood that killed four people.

Speaking Wednesday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," Dugan said police will still need help from the public as they try to learn more about 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson, who was arrested Tuesday and is facing four counts of first-degree murder.

Dugan said he's spoken to Donaldson, who he said was "pretty non-responsive" and subdued. Dugan said Donaldson hasn't admitted to the shootings but did admit to owning a gun he took into a McDonald's shortly before being taken into custody.

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7:30 a.m.

A Florida police officer who was doing paperwork while sitting in a McDonald's restaurant got a tip led authorities to the suspect accused of killing four people in random shootings over the past two months.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a late-night news conference Tuesday that 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson walked into the McDonalds and asked a fellow employee to hold a bag with a loaded semiautomatic gun while he went to a nearby business to get a payday loan. The employee consulted with a manager who notified the officer sitting at a table.

When Donaldson returned, police were waiting. He's facing four counts of murder.

Television station WFLA, citing an arrest report, said a search of Donaldson's cellphone found location data storage that indicated three days of recorded times and activities that correspond with the first three shootings on Oct. 9, Oct. 11 and Oct. 19.

The report says Donaldson asked for a lawyer while talking with police.

Precious photos show Santa visiting infants at Ohio hospital

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 5:36 AM

Santa Claus and friend.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Santa Claus and friend.(Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Santa Claus made a special trip to an Ohio hospital to spread Christmas love to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.

>> Read more trending news

At Akron Children’s Hospital, 66 families received a special visit from St. Nick, who held the infants and chatted with the babies’ older siblings, WJW reported.

The hospital posted some of the photographs on its Facebook page. 

Baby’s first Christmas! Santa made the holiday season much brighter for 66 families and their precious babies in our...

Posted by Akron Children's Hospital on Thursday, December 14, 2017

The touching photos were courtesy of Simon Says Smile, a volunteer program provided by Black Dog Photo Co., and started by Ashley Smas and Molly Conger.

The program was started as a result of Molly’s son, Simon, who spent 82 days in Akron Children’s NICU due to an esophageal atresia and prematurity.

Simon is now a healthy 5-year-old, WJW reported.

“When your child is in the NICU you don’t have the opportunity to get regular hospital photos as you would at an adult hospital. I treasure the photos they [Black Dog Photo Co.] took for us that day and wanted to share that gift with others in the same situation,” Conger told WJW.

The photos show Santa bonding with the babies, some of whom are wearing their Christmas outfits.

Community offers support as 94-year-old Florida woman arrested during eviction celebrates birthday

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 11:50 PM

Juanita Fitzgerald (WFTV.com)
Juanita Fitzgerald (WFTV.com)

After spending two nights in jail in Lake County, Florida, on a trespassing charge filed when she refused to leave her apartment during an eviction, Juanita Fitzgerald was glad to spend her 94th birthday somewhere else.

>> Read more trending news

Fitzgerald was placed in a Eustis patrol car Tuesday after repeatedly refusing to leave the lobby of Franklin House.

At one point, she reportedly told officers that if they wanted her to leave, they would have to "carry me out of here."

>> Read: Eustis woman evicted days before her 94th birthday, jailed when she refuses to leave, police say

Fitzgerald, who turned 94 Friday, spoke to WFTV from jail before she was released on her own recognizance Thursday.

“There’s no reason for me to leave. Not one,” said Fitzgerald, who was sitting shackled in a wheelchair wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Fitzgerald said she lived at Franklin House, an affordable housing facility in Eustis, for nearly eight years.

She said she couldn’t understand why she was being evicted, but court records show she owed rent and would not pay.

Bodycam footage released by Eustis police shows officers taking a screaming Fitzgerald to jail. At one point, she slides out of her wheelchair onto the ground to avoid arrest.

Police said they offered Fitzgerald assistance from nearly a dozen agencies to avoid arresting her, but she refused, so they had no choice but to place her under arrest for trespassing.

Franklin House resident Dave Howell didn't understand why Fitzgerald was so resistant to accepting help.

"Everybody here has attempted to help her," he said. "And one thing's that unique (is) she refuses all help."

After spending two nights in jail, Fitzgerald said she’ll bounce back.

“I’m a born-again Christian and I’m spirit-filled,” she said.

Fitzgerald also said she would like to go back to Franklin House, if possible.

"Yeah, I'd go back there and live," she said. "You know, that's all the people I know."

Since she was released from jail, members of the community have offered support to Fitzgerald. They include a Mount Dora dentist who offered to make her a new set of dentures as a Christmas present.

She is currently staying in a Tavares hotel room, which is being paid for with donations.

Fitzgerald's story was shared extensively on social media, with several people offering to pay her $500 bond to get out of jail and many others saying they were working to find her a permanent place to live.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort released from house arrest on $10 million bail

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 9:56 PM

Paul Manafort’s home in BallenIsles, Fla. , where he’s heading after posting bail for release from house arrest.
R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post
Paul Manafort’s home in BallenIsles, Fla. , where he’s heading after posting bail for release from house arrest.(R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is one step closer to being released from house arrest in Virginia and waiting out his trial at his home in Palm Beach Gardens.

>> Read more trending news 

In an order signed Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she was satisfied that the $10 million in property Manafort agreed to forfeit would be available if he failed to appear in court. Before Manafort can travel to his Palm Beach Gardens home, he and his wife and daughter must complete paperwork regarding the forfeiture of the properties.

Under the terms of his release, Manafort must live at his home in BallenIsles and will have a curfew of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Manafort must continue wearing an electronic monitoring device but will be allowed to travel in Palm Beach and Broward counties and to Washington, D.C. for court hearings. He must also stay away from airports, train and bus stations and report weekly to a federal probation office in West Palm Beach.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Paul Manafort, 2 other former Trump campaign staffers charged

Manafort and longtime associate Rick Gates were indicted by a grand jury Oct. 30 in an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. They face charges of laundering millions of dollars through overseas shell companies and banks.

Woman mauled to death by her own pit bulls during neighborhood walk 

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 7:52 PM

Pit Bulls Maul Owner To Death During Neighborhood Walk

A Virginia woman was mauled to death by her own pit bulls Thursday while out for a walk with them in her Goochland County neighborhood, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news 

Victim Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was found in a wooded area by her father after he went looking for her when she didn’t return home from the walk, according to WTVR-TV.

He told told sheriff’s officials that her two dogs appeared to be “guarding” her body when he found his daughter.

"It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims' dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs," Sheriff James Agnew said, citing the Medical Examiner's initial report indicated, WTVR reported

"The victim had defensive wounds on her hands and arms trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive,” Agnew told the TV station.

He said Stephens apparently sustained injuries to her face and throat.

"It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death," he said.

Goochland County Animal control has custody of the pit bulls, which will be euthanized.

The sheriff told WTVR it was a grisley mauling.

>> Related: Dog attacked by 3 bears while being walked in Florida

"In my 40 years of law enforcement I've never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like it again," he said.