A McDonald’s employee has been arrested in the US state of Florida on suspicion of being a serial killer.
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is accused of randomly killing four people between 9 October and 14 November in Tampa.
The 24-year-old was detained on Tuesday afternoon at a branch of the burger restaurant where he had reportedly worked for two months.
He had asked a manager to hold on to his loaded 9mm handgun, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Police say the suspect had “expressed his intention to leave the state”.
Another McDonald’s employee noticed a police officer filling out paperwork in the restaurant, and urged her manager to tell the officer about the gun.
Mobile phone records indicate Mr Donaldson was in the area of three of the murders, according to a sworn police affidavit.
He admitted legally purchasing the pistol on 3 October, say police.
Investigators say the Glock handgun has been tested and matches bullet shell casings found at the murder scenes.
Police say that clothing found during a search of Mr Donaldson’s car looks like that worn by a man seen on homeowners’ CCTV footage near the crime locations.
BREAKING NEWS: Chief Dugan announced that Howell Donaldson III will face charges in connection with 4 murders in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. pic.twitter.com/MuqAWLRyN9
— TampaPD (@TampaPD) November 29, 2017
They add that the clothes appeared to have been stained by blood.
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The killings left many residents of Tampa’s working-class neighbourhood of Seminole Heights afraid to venture outside after dark.
Police accompanied students to bus stops, while protesters held reclaim-the-streets demonstrations.
All four victims were either boarding or disembarking from a bus at the time they were shot:
Benjamin Mitchell, 22, a musician, was shot dead on 9 October while waiting at a bus stop
Monica Hoffa, 32, a waitress, was gunned down on 11 October while walking to meet a friend
Anthony Naiboa, 20, a mild autism sufferer, was fatally shot on 19 October while walking home from work
Ronald Felton, 60, a construction worker was killed on 14 November
Mayor Bob Buckhorn told a news conference after the arrest: “Fifty-one days ago, I said this was a struggle between good and evil.
“Well tonight, goodness has won. Tonight, in the battle between darkness and light, light has won.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott is due to visit police in Tampa to thank police for the investigation.
“In Florida, we have absolutely zero tolerance for this type of evil behaviour,” he said, vowing justice for the victims.
Police believe the gunman chose his victims at random and a motive is still unclear.
The FBI helped police in the investigation.