National News

McDonald's manager gets ovation at Seminole Heights investigation ceremony

Posted January 18, 2018 2:11 p.m. EST

TAMPA -- Delonda Walker, the McDonald's employee who gave police the tip that led to an arrest in the Seminole Heights slayings, received a standing ovation Wednesday during a ceremony thanking citizens who helped in the investigation.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn and police Chief Brian Dugan honored more than two dozen people during the event in the Ragan Park Community Center at 1200 E Lake Ave., just over a mile from where the last victim was murdered.

Walker didn't speak during the ceremony. Asked afterward about any fallout over coming forward with the tip, she told a reporter, "It's been tough. It's been real tough."

Among those recognized were people who helped police by turning over surveillance video, donating to the reward fund and paying for billboards. But many said Walker deserved the most credit.

Howell Emanuel Donaldson III was arrested Nov. 30, hours after he handed Walker a paper sack with a gun inside, then left the Ybor City McDonald's where they worked. Walker will receive a $110,000 reward for alerting authorities, Dugan said.

Donaldson killed four people during "51 days of terror," Dugan said. While terrifying, the slayings brought the community together and made it stronger, Dugan said.

Dugan also said that Buckhorn's leadership, while at times unorthodox, was essential in uniting the community.

"I'm not going to lie, I might have cringed when he said, 'Bring his head to me,'?" Dugan told the audience, drawing a chuckle. "But I can tell you the officers loved it. More importantly, it was a statement of what he was trying to do -- to make sure we stuck together."

Contact Jonathan Capriel at jcapriel@tampabay.com. Follow @JonathanCapriel.