Dontae Rashawn Morris
Tampa cop killer suspect Dontae Rashawn Morris (AP Photo/Hillsborough County Jail)
Police Chief Jane Castor badge is covered with a black and blue stripe as she addresses the media during a news conference (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, second from right, greets mourners who stopped to pay their respects for fallen Tampa police officers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Mourners place flowers on the fallen police officer memorial outside the Tampa, Fla., Police Dept. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Officer Jeff Kocab, 31 and Officer Dave Curtis, also 31, were killed in Tuesday morning's shooting.
A private citizen helped initiate the surrender, officials said.
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TAMPA -- The largest manhunt in city history ended peacefully Friday night when the man suspected of fatally shooting two Tampa police officers surrendered to authorities, police said.
Dontae Rashawn Morris was wanted in the killings early Tuesday morning of police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab. He turned himself in through a third party about 10:15 p.m.
"I can't tell you how relieved the men and women of the Tampa Police Department are," Police Chief Jane Castor said at 11:05 p.m. "Thank God he's under arrest."
Morris, 24, also is a suspect in two other homicides and a person of interest in a fifth slaying, police say.
Curtis and Kocab, both 31, were each shot in the head after Curtis pulled over a red 1994 Toyota Camry about 2:15 a.m. Tuesday. After discovering an active arrest warrant for Morris, a passenger in the Camry, Curtis called for backup and Kocab arrived.
Morris somehow managed to kill both and ran into the darkness, police said. He spent the next four days eluding hundreds of local, state and federal officers who offered a $100,000 reward, pursued nearly 400 tips and combed East Tampa for him.
Castor said the driver of the Camry, 22-year-old Cortnee Nicole Brantley, also was arrested and charged with witnessing a felony and not reporting it.
"This is a very emotional evening for every police officer and every law enforcement officer in the bay area," Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said. "Tonight everyone in Tampa can sleep easier because Dontae Morris is off the street."
Natasha Williams, the aunt of 21-year-old Derek Anderson, whom police say Morris killed in May, was picking up her boyfriend from work at the St. Pete Times Forum when a niece called and told her Morris had turned himself in.
She immediately sped to police headquarters because she wanted to see him.
"This means so much to my family," Williams said. "My sister on her knees right now crying and praying. And words cannot express how good this feels."
Morris is now a suspect in four homicides - the two officers, plus the shootings of Derek Anderson and Harold Wright. He also is a "person of interest" in an unspecified fifth homicide in Tampa.
Wright, 25, of Valrico, was found shot in the head, lying beside a road in the Palm River-Clair Mel area just after midnight June 8.
The motive appeared to be drug-related, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said.
"He's involved up to his eyeballs," Gee said of Morris.
Wright's aunt, Claudette Michel, said she saw her nephew the day before he was killed, and he was carrying three bags of marijuana.
"He was a nice person, but he was selling drugs," said Michel, 55.
"His mama kept begging him to leave them alone, but he wouldn't."
Michel said she suspects her nephew's death was the result of a setup drug deal.
Wright routinely carried thousands of dollars. She also heard that Morris and his girlfriend, Brantley, attended her nephew's funeral.
Michel said she's heard more than one name floated in connection with her nephew's death, but rumors of Morris' connection became more plausible after she heard about the officers' deaths.
"It makes you wonder," she said.
On Thursday, Castor announced that Morris is a suspect in the May 18 killing of 21-year-old Derek Anderson, who was shot at an apartment complex searched by police this week.
Police have discovered new information in some of the homicides during the search for Morris.
For example, in the fatal Tampa shooting where he is a person of interest, they didn't know he might be involved until they talked to someone this week who knows him, Castor said.
But she said further investigations into those three killings are not the priority now.
Copyright 2010 Lakeland Ledger Publishing Corporation