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Girlfriend of man accused of killing police officer said he was paranoid, upset

TAMPA — Soon after the summer slaying of a Tampa police officer, authorities found the suspected gunman hiding in a woodpile behind a home near the crime scene.

Humberto Delgado was armed and agitated. After a police dog sniffed him out, a chaotic scene unfolded, according to police documents released Tuesday.

Officers crowded around Delgado. They kicked and punched and yelled as he fought off handcuffs.

Delgado, 34, begged them not to hurt him.

"I'm sorry," he yelled. "I'm crazy."

A Hillsborough sheriff's corporal heard Delgado say he had reverted to his Army training when he attacked the officer. Others heard him utter something more personal:

"I'm one of you."

• • •

About 10 p.m. on Aug. 19, authorities say, Delgado pistol-whipped and shot 38-year-old Cpl. Mike Roberts on a street corner in Sulphur Springs.

Two employees of the appliance business on the same corner said they had first seen Delgado walking the streets with his shopping cart about three weeks before. They didn't know his name, but once they gave him food.

He told them that he used to have a rich man's job.

"Look at me now," he said, according to documents.

Delgado, born in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, worked from 1996 to 2000 as a police officer there. He served about a year in the U.S. Army before being honorably discharged in 2005 due to a knee injury and bipolar disorder.

Last spring, his live-in girlfriend, who is also the mother of one of his children, asked him to move out of her North Carolina home. Shayla Evans told police investigators that Delgado, who went by the nickname Tito, was having trouble finding a job since his discharge from the military.

Evans described her boyfriend as passive, the kind of person who avoided trouble or ran from it. She said he had a temper but thought he could control it.

She also said Delgado had become paranoid since leaving the Army, assuming the Department of Veterans Affairs and other government agencies were out to get him. She knew he collected guns.

After leaving North Carolina, Delgado moved in with an uncle in Oldsmar but got kicked out of that home, Evans said.

He bounced between homeless shelters, friends' homes and the streets, traveling by bus and washing up at a park.

During their final phone conversation just days before the shooting, Evans said Delgado was dissatisfied with being homeless and wanted help getting a plane ticket back to the Virgin Islands. He mentioned being angry with the agency that issued his food stamps, she said.

Other friends also described Delgado as paranoid and unhappy.

"I'm dead," he told a childhood friend. "I have nothing to live for."

• • •

Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty against Delgado. But if the documents released Tuesday are any indication, authorities still don't have a completely clear picture of how Delgado spent Aug. 19.

Records indicate that he visited his storage unit in Oldsmar at 1:18 p.m. Authorities would later find a .22-caliber rifle, magazines about guns and numerous rounds of ammunition in the unit.

That night, 13 miles away in Sulphur Springs, Roberts radioed in to let dispatchers know he was stopping to question a man pushing a full shopping cart down N Nebraska Avenue near E Arctic Street. The neighborhood had been victimized by recent burglaries.

A fire truck full of firefighters and paramedics saw Roberts with his flashlight in hand, talking to a man with dreadlocks. They waved, and Roberts waved back.

But within minutes, the encounter between the officer and the man turned physical, according to reports.

Roberts hit Delgado with his Taser, then chased him across the street.

Delgado knocked the officer to the ground, according to witnesses who drove by the scene. Octavia Mack and Richard Farmer said they saw Delgado pistol whip or punch Roberts multiple times.

Then, as Roberts lay motionless on the ground, they saw Delgado squat over him and fire a single shot at close range. The bullet traveled from Roberts' shoulder into his chest through an opening in his bulletproof vest, police say.

As Delgado fled with several guns in tow, another officer arrived at the scene. Referring to his fallen colleague by his call sign, the officer radioed in the horrific news.

"Lincoln 61 is down."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Girlfriend of man accused of killing police officer said he was paranoid, upset 12/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 10:46am]

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