TAMPA — The women didn't know Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis.
But as the two Tampa policemen lay dying, they stayed with them. Delores Keen called 911. Renee Roundtree and Rose Dodson checked their pulses.
On Friday, a shopping spree and a lunch awaited the women and eight of their children. It was a community's way to say thank you.
Flanked by a dozen police officers and reporters, the families picked shoes at University Mall's Foot Locker. Nike's newest Air Jordans — black and purple and shiny — seemed most popular.
The Tampa Police Department worked with the mall to help the families prepare for the upcoming school year. The store donated 18 pairs of shoes, worth a total of about $1,800, an employee said. A ninth child who was unable to attend also received two pair of shoes.
Kocab and Curtis, both 31, were shot June 29 near 50th Street and E 23rd Avenue. Dontae Morris, the man accused of the killings, is in a Hillsborough County Jail, facing first-degree murder charges.
Most see Roundtree, Dodson and Keen as heroes, but their actions have drawn the ire of many in their neighborhood and the black community.
"Police snitch," people call them.
Still, the women are proud of what they did.
"Thank you for recognizing that we did try to do the right thing," said Dodson, who bought two pairs of gray and black sneakers for her 8-year-old son, Andre. "I really appreciate it."
Dodson said she still has trouble sleeping and wakes up in the middle of the night. Andre, who was with her that June day, doesn't want to live in the same neighborhood anymore.
"He's a little traumatized," she said. She plans to move at the earliest opportunity.
On June 29, Dodson, who lives in a 50th Street apartment complex, was awakened by the sounds of two gunshots.
Roundtree was headed to a store when she heard them. She ran back into her apartment but went out a few minutes later when she saw police cars, thinking they were making a house call.
Instead, she found the two officers in a ditch. Kocab was lying on Curtis' outstretched arms and both were struggling to breathe.
Police Chief Jane Castor stopped by Friday to meet the families as they shopped.
"All we have been able to say is thank you," she told reporters. "To see our community come together is so heartwarming."
After shopping, the kids lugged their bags to the food court, to a table set with balloons and Chick-fil-A nuggets, sandwiches, fries and lemonade.
It was then that someone took someone else's hand.
Before long, the officers, the mothers and the children were standing in a circle, their hands locked and heads bowed.
As they prayed, Roundtree thought of the slain officers.
Nandini Jayakrishna can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or [email protected]