TAMPA, Fla. -- Newly released documents in the case of four related murders in Seminole Heights in 2017 show that law enforcement attempted to contact suspected killer Howell Donaldson III numerous times prior to his actual arrest.

  • Name came up in connection with gun purchase
  • Suspect tried to purchase different gun week before
  • Canceled transaction after learning of 30-day hold 

On Oct. 20, 2017 police began tracking down every Tampa Bay area resident who had recently purchased a .40 caliber Glock handgun. 

Howell Donaldson III's name came up as one of hundreds of recent gun owners, and on Oct. 30 a law enforcement officer stopped by his house to try and talk to him. According to the police report, he was not home.  

On Nov. 1, an ATF agent following up on the lead texted Donaldson's phone. The text went unread and unanswered. 

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Two weeks later, Ronald Felton was killed and deemed the fourth victim in the string of related killings. Donaldson was placed under arrest after giving the gun to the manager of the McDonald's he worked at on Nov. 28. 

Donaldson purchased the .40 caliber Glock from Shooters World on Oct. 3. He received the gun on Oct. 7 following the 3-day cooling off period. 

Police interviewed the employee who sold Donaldson the gun, and he told them that Donaldson didn't want to hear his input about the purchase -- he just wanted to get the gun and go. 

"He didn't care really what I had to say. He was just trying to get the gun," the employee told investigators. 

Donaldson had tried to purchase a different gun from Shooters World the week before, but after discovering the gun he wanted had a 30-day hold he canceled the transaction.