Yesterday marked four years since the Tampa Police Department lost one of its own in a tragically-violent incident. TPD Police Corporal Mike Roberts was slain on August 19, 2009 during a "suspicious person" investigation.
Corporal Roberts, working midnight shift, stopped at 9:59 p.m. (according to police radio transmissions) to confer with a male pushing a shopping cart in the streets of Tampa, Fla. Upon making contact, a struggle quickly ensued. The subject brandished a handgun, struck Corporal Roberts a few times with it, then shot him in the chest, at an area his ballistic vest did not protect against harm.
Shortly thereafter, Corporal Roberts' sergeant arrived on scene to render aid to Roberts; the fleeing gunman brandished an AR-15 from his shopping cart and pointed it at Roberts' sergeant.
The proverbial and hellacious necessity given such circumstances, a gut-wrenching "Officer down!" exclamation, was broadcast via police frequencies. Countless Tampa law enforcement officers raced to Corporal Roberts' aid, performed CPR and scene security, until Tampa Fire/Rescue paramedics arrived.
Tampa Fire/Rescue ambulance transported Corporal Roberts to Tampa General Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.
Myriad law enforcement officers were present last night at the Tampa Police Memorial site outside the Tampa Police Department headquarters building in downtown, Tampa, Fla. Laser blue lights --symbolic of The Thin Blue Line-- were cast and emphasized the night sky and the somber mood of all those who stood below it, in commemoration of fallen officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Notably, Corporal Roberts' wife and young son were among the Tampa police family, eternally in support of Corporal Roberts' loved ones, his police brothers and sisters, and the Tampa citizenry for whom he selflessly served...in the end marked by the ultimate sacrifice: His life.
The largest, most-grotesque irony in all this horror? The shooter who maliciously and callously took Corporal Roberts' life is a former U.S. Virgin Islands police officer. Heavily armed with three firearms and an assault rifle, the shooter was subsequently located by a Tampa police canine, was apprehended, and duly convicted in November 2011. A death sentence was meted out, yet an innocent soul was stolen.
Corporal Roberts had served diligently with the Tampa Police Department for 11 years and, prior to police service, in the United States Army in the Persian Gulf War. His honor and courageous deeds remain a staple fabric of the Tampa police force and the Tampa community.
The chilling transmission from Corporal Roberts' sergeant, the first to arrive on scene and discover his colleague laying mortally wounded, bellowed across police frequency: "Lincoln 61 is down!"
Never forgotten, Corporal Mike Roberts...Lincoln 61, never forgotten! E.O.W 08/19/2009.