TAMPA, Fla. — Crime Stoppers Tampa Bay says it will now pay out their portion of a reward offered for the tip leading to the arrest of the accused Seminole Heights, Florida murderer.
The reversal of the decision comes after repeated questioning by Tampa-based WFTS.
“It did not meet the Crime Stoppers category for the $5,000 on our part to be paid out,” Debbie Carter, President of Crime Stoppers Tampa Bay, said. “The person has to call through the tip line, mobile app or the website to be eligible for the reward.”
In this case, a tip like that could have given the suspect time to flee.
Howell Donaldson was arrested at a McDonalds in Ybor because a co-worker approached an officer after Howell handed her a bag with a gun inside.
“She was doing the right thing and contacting law enforcement and my understanding is that there was an officer within McDonald’s at the time,” Carter said.
Before the decision to pay out the $5,000 Carter explained there is a loophole.
“Which is totally out of protocol and programs don’t normally do, is we could pay it out of another fund if the board decides to do so,” she explained.
WFTS learned a vote was called for around noon through email. Around 3:45 p.m., the board gave the go ahead to pay out.
The total reward amount from several agencies and donors was $110,000.
One donor already cut a $9,000 check.
The remaining $96,000 is still up in the air.
Other agencies including the ATF and FBI are still going through the process of approving the reward.
An official with the Tampa Police Department says they’re working with all of the agencies involved to make sure the tipster gets as much of the reward as possible.