New York City

McDonald's Manager's Tip Led Cops to Suspected Serial Killer Who Studied in NYC: Officials

The manager was rewarded with a $9,000 check

What to Know

  • Delonda Walker is being hailed as a hero after her tip lead police to the man accused of a string of random killings
  • Howell Emmanuel Donaldson III, 24, has been arrested in a series of shooting deaths in the Tampa area
  • Donaldson attended St. John's University in Queens, officials confirm; he graduated in January 2017 and was a walk-on student athlete

A Florida McDonald's manager is being hailed as a hero after she turned in a gun that led to the arrest of a suspected serial killer who once studied in New York City. 

The man arrested in Tampa in a series of killings that unnerved residents for months was a graduate of St. John's University in New York City and part of the men's basketball team there, officials say.

Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, graduated from St. John's in January 2017, after enrolling there in the fall of the 2011, university officials confirm to News 4. He was a walk-on student athlete for the men's basketball team during the 2011-2012 season but never played in a game. 

McDonald's manager Delonda Walker worked with Donaldson at the Ybor City location.

The investigation that led to Donaldson took off when Walker told police she saw a loaded gun, after Donaldson handed her the weapon in a bag at the restaurant.

Police say this tip cracked the case and helped put Donaldson behind bars.

On Wednesday, Richard Gonzmart, of the Columbia restaurant group, came by the McDonald's and gave the manager a $9,000 check.

"She doesn't look at herself as a hero. How do you not look at yourself like a hero to take this monster off the streets? She's a hero in my eyes," Gonzmart said.

Police said Tuesday night they plan to charge him on four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths in recent weeks. They all took place in the same half mile-area north of downtown. 

"All four murders were ruthlessly committed," Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a news conference Wednesday morning. "There was no apparent motive." 

Donaldson was arrested in Manhattan in 2014, but the record remains sealed.

Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot and killed on Oct. 9. Monica Hoffa, 32, was shot on Oct. 11, but her body wasn't found until Oct. 13. Anthony Naiboa, 20, was killed on Oct. 20 and Ronald Felton, 60, was killed on Nov. 14.

Police say on Tuesday afternoon, Donaldson showed up at the McDonald's where he worked and handed a bag to a coworker, then left. The coworker opened the bag and found the gun inside. 

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