TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.
When the procession reached the memorial where Anthony Naiboa had been gunned down on Thursday, his father asked the crowd of more than 100 to look at a photo of his son — as well as the spot where Anthony's blood still stained the sidewalk.
"He had dreams," Casimar Naiboa said. "They killed him for nothing. It's not human."
Naiboa is the third murder victim in Southeast Seminole Heights since Oct. 9.
Benjamin Mitchell, a former schoolmate of Naiboa's, was killed at a bus stop along N 15th Street at E Frierson Avenue.
Two days later, the body of Monica Hoffa, 32, was found a few blocks away.
And on Oct. 19, Naiboa was killed less than a block from where Mitchell was shot.
The vigil was planned at the request of Naiboa's parents, said Nathan Dufresne, 33, of the Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association.
Naiboa's cousin Jabari Sanchez, 35, said Naiboa had started his first job this month, packing food for Puerto Rico hurricane relief at a warehouse on Harney Road. With his first paycheck, Naiboa planned to take his four siblings to dinner.
"He was a special kid," Sanchez remembered.
Jessica Coleman, 36, lives a block away from one of the murder scenes. Now Coleman and her neighbors are on the guard for each other. When one of them is coming home late, they call the others so someone will be standing guard on the porch when they drive up.
"I'm scared," said Coleman, the mother of a 7-year-old. Relatives have asked her to stay with them, but she won't be chased from her home.
She came to the vigil to show that strength.
"We're a community," Coleman said. "We are not isolated. We're doing this together."
Naiboa was shot in front of the N 15th Street home where Bobby Clark, 43, lives.
"I'm scared," Clark said. "I'm straight scared."
Clark said he leaves his pit bull in the back yard a little bit later now. He sits on his front porch later into the evening to keep watch. And he won't let his wife and step-daughter walk anywhere in the neighborhood without him by their side.
"That boy did nothing wrong," Clark said of Naiboa. "Why kill him? Why kill anyone? Why this neighborhood? Why my neighborhood. This has to stop."
Clark said police asked if he's seen anyone tall who walks with a flip in their step.
"Every time I see a tall guy walking different now I'll cross the street," Clark said.
Alan Perry, 40, a member of the Tampa branch of Guardian Angels, a volunteer anti-crime squad that got its start on New York City subways, said he and at least 6 other members will patrol the neighborhood at night until the killer is found, and they will step up numbers on Halloween.
"Kids are going to trick or treat so let's make it safe," Perry said.
Asked what they are looking for, fellow Angel William Cruz said, "A shadow. A ghost."
Incoming neighborhood association president Steve Zinder, 50, passed out water to walkers during the vigil. He said Southeast Seminole Heights is a tight-knit community, but wonders about the ease with which the killer has eluded capture.
"He could be here with us tonight," Zinder said.
There was a police escort during the vigil, and a community meeting is scheduled for Monday night, where concerned residents can talk with investigators. The meeting is 6:30 p.m. at the Edison Elementary School auditorium, 1607 E Curtis St.
Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.