Neighborhood Using Christmas Lights to Fight Against Possible Serial Killer

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents in southeast Seminole Heights are making a community effort to “Light the Heights.” The goal is to put up Christmas lights on every street and every home in the neighborhood to help with patrols.

“We’ve been hearing, ‘turn your porch lights on, stay indoors’ and we thought, ‘well what else can we do to help the police?’” Courtney Bumgarner, an organizer of Light the Heights, said.

Tampa police are leading a manhunt for the person believed to be responsible for randomly murdering four people between Oct. 9 and Nov. 14.

Volunteers with the Have Your Neighbors’ Back team are canvassing the neighborhood in zones each night this week from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“I’m so excited we have an opportunity to change the narrative and make people talk about our neighborhood in a positive light,” Bumgarner said.

She says they want to be sure people feel safe while decorating their homes for Christmas.

Organizers say the plan is to hold light hanging events on Saturday and Sunday.

“I refuse to be trapped in my own house,” said resident Carla Washington.

The volunteers began walking the neighborhood Monday night south of Hillsborough Avenue where two of the victims, Benjamin Mitchell and Anthony Naiboa, were murdered.

The area Tuesday night will include E. New Orleans Avenue, where Monica Hoffa was murdered, along with Caracas Street, where Ronnie Felton, the most recent victim, was killed.

The group will move further south the remainder of the week and will end at E. Dr. MLK Jr. Boulevard.

“The lights are cheerful and festive and bright. It serves a dual purpose for the time that we’re in,” resident TerryAnn Martin said.

Organizers of the Light the Heights effort say volunteers will be out in full force decorating homes over the weekend.

They’re asking for the following donations:

  • Christmas lights – new and used
  • Extension cords
  • Yard stakes
  • Projectors- Holiday lights or other
  • Solar powered lights and projectors for vacant homes/lots

According the group’s Facebook page, donations can be dropped off at the following businesses in Seminole Heights:

  • Southern Brewing & Wine Making
  • Ella’s
  • Fodder & Shine
  • Richard’s Automotive Service
  • Front Porch
  • Ebisu Sushi Shack
  • Christmas tree lot at Seminole Heights United Methodist Church
  • Jai Dee Massage & Yoga Studio
  • The Mermaid Tavern
  • Two Broke Spokes

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