Tampa cops monitor school bus stops amid serial killer fears

Last Updated Oct 23, 2017 5:23 PM EDT

TAMPA — Police in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood monitored school bus stops Monday, while fanning across the area in search of a man they believe may be associated with as many as three murders in 11 days, 

The Tampa Police Department gave officers a list of bus stops in the neighborhood, as well as pick-up times, and vowed to keep watch over students, Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty told CBS News. 

The neighborhood has been on high alert after the shooting deaths of three people who had no apparent links to each other. 

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan believes the killings are connected based on their close proximity and time frame. However, Dugan is refraining from labeling the unknown suspect as a serial killer. 

"I'm very cautious of that term because we don't have enough information," Dugan told CBS News. "You know, we don't know. It could be multiple people." 

Police are looking for an individual seen in surveillance video strolling through the neighborhood, wearing a hoodie, on the night of the first murder.

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An image taken from security camera video shows an unidentified man walking in Tampa, Florida's Seminole Heights neighborhood on Oct. 9, 2017, the night Benjamin Mitchell was killed. Tampa police believe that and two other murders are connected.

"We have no leads," Dugan said over the weekend. "We have no motive."

What police do have is a disturbing pattern; three victims, strangers to each other but shot in the same area, in the same time frame.

On October 13, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa's body was found in a vacant lot. Four days earlier, 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell's body was found less than a mile away.

On Thursday, police found the body of 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa, who was shot after taking the wrong bus home from work, about 100 yards from where Mitchell was killed.

At a vigil on Sunday evening, Naiboa's father, Casimir, pointed to a place on the ground: "He was right on this floor, right here. They killed him just for nothing. Like he's not a human, like he's nothing."

Patrol officers are canvassing the streets, hoping to find the killer and ease the community's fear. The police were to hold a community meeting with residents Monday evening to talk about the murders, and how to stay safe.

Speaking on CBSN Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said officers have been "saturating" the neighborhood for 10 days and said the community, though fearful, has been helpful in the investigation.

"We really have activated and energizing the neighborhood to take ownership of their streets – they're not going to give up, they're not going to let evil win this," Buckhorn said. "They're going to take back their streets and we're going to be right there with them, looking for every suspect, looking for every clue. We're not leaving here until we get this guy."

He said investigators were using technology to aide in the search, but said he wouldn't detail how.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that police are monitoring school bus stops in Tampa, not escorting children to and from those stops.