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Sister warned latest shooting victim to be careful traveling Seminole Heights

By Howard Altman
Tampa police said the shooting death Tuesday morning of Ronnie Felton, 60, appears to be related to three other slayings recently in the Seminole Heights area. [News10 WTSP]

TAMPA — The last time Tina Felton saw her brother Ronnie was Wednesday.

He was on his bicycle, as usual.

"I was driving and pulled over," said Tina Felton, 65. "I told him, ‘You know all the mess going on in these areas. I want you to be careful.’?"

Once again, she gave her brother her phone number, because he kept losing his mobile phone.

"I said, ‘You be careful to keep an eye out for what is going around,’?" she said. "We don’t want to have a funeral like these other families." He said, ‘Ain’t gonna be me. If anything happens to me, I love ya.’?"

Ronald Felton, 60, was shot dead Tuesday morning near Nebraska Avenue and Caracas Street in Seminole Heights, near the scenes of three shooting deaths during October that Tampa police say were related. Police said Tuesday it appears Felton’s killing is related, too.

Born in New York, Felton grew up in West Tampa and Sulphur Springs, said Cynthia Murray, who took Felton in "some time back" to her home near Florida Avenue and Emma Street. He was homeless, Murray said. He had worked in construction and was close to his twin brother, Reggie Felton, she said.

Ronnie Felton had been volunteering Tuesdays and Fridays for 10 years at the New Season Apostolic Ministries on Nebraska, said pastor Samuel Washington, picking up food, storing food and giving it away to the 200 families who receive groceries there each week.

His twin, Reggie, volunteers there, too.

"They were bosom buddies," Washington said.

Said Murray, "Anybody who knows Tampa knows the twins and they know if you ask Ronnie for help he would do whatever you wanted. He didn’t need to come here (the pantry) every week, but he loved it."

Cassandra Davis, 29, said the Felton twins are as well known in West Tampa as they are in the Seminole Heights area.

"The neighborhoods are one big family," Davis said. "They all know the twins. They’re good people"

Linda Daniels, a cousin of Ronnie Felton’s, said, "He was the sweetest person, never any problems."

Tina Felton said her brother was one of about 21 or 22 children of James Felton.

"My daddy was one of them rolling stones," she said. "I am the oldest and took care of the whole clan."

The twins, she said, were inseparable and used their similarities to play tricks on teachers and girlfriends alike.

"If Reggie didn’t like his teacher, he’d switch with Ronnie," Tina Felton said. "They’d use each other’s names. They’d do the same thing with their girlfriends. If Ronnie didn’t like his girlfriend, he’s switch with Reggie."

The two were together all the time until recently, Tina Felton said. Then Reggie got married.

They both went to Carver Elementary School, now Carver Exceptional Center at 2934 E Hillsborough Ave. They stayed together in high school — she didn’t remember which one — until dropping out.

Then they went to work for the same employer.

Eventually, the twins got in trouble with the law, Tina Felton said.

"When Ronnie got in trouble it was not even a week before Reggie got in trouble," she said. "When Reggie got into trouble, it was not long until Ronnie got into trouble."

Felton has a long history of felony and misdemeanor arrests and convictions for drug possession, auto theft, carrying a concealed weapon, domestic violence and burglary charges dating to the mid 1970s, according to records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

But the trouble stopped around 2007, their sister said. That’s when both twins found religion.

"They used to go to church and they started handing out food."

Ronnie Felton, she said, became "a quiet, peaceful person who would not bother anyone.

"He was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back."

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com. Follow@haltman.