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After St. Petersburg police shootings, widows' grief comes flooding back

Cindy Roberts, with son Adam, touches the name of her late husband, Cpl. Mike Roberts, at the Tampa Police Memorial.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times (2009)

Cindy Roberts, with son Adam, touches the name of her late husband, Cpl. Mike Roberts, at the Tampa Police Memorial.

TAMPA — Cindy Roberts' phone rang Monday morning with news of the St. Petersburg police shootings. Her mind flashed to Aug. 19, 2009, the day her husband, Tampa police Cpl. Mike Roberts, was killed on duty.

In Odessa, Vickie Childers-Metzler monitored her television for the St. Petersburg officers' conditions. When she learned two men died, she felt ill. She pictured her late husband's face, though it has been nearly 13 years since the death of Tampa police Detective Ricky Childers.

"You get a big surge of that initial grief," she said.

The pain of losing an on-duty spouse in a criminal act is like no other pain, Roberts said.

Few understand it like the families of other fallen officers.

She keeps in touch with Kelly Curtis and Sara Kocab, whose husbands, both Tampa police officers, were killed June 29.

"And now, unfortunately, I will have two other cohorts in St. Petersburg," Roberts said.

Childers-Metzler knows the widows' grief will be intense and long-lasting. She's learned how to cope, but after Hank Earl Carr killed her husband, she isolated herself and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"You get up one morning and, in minutes, your whole world collapses," she said. "You're totally off-balance, and you go through desperation, thinking, 'No, that can't be true.'

"It's a horrible, horrible time. My heart goes out to them."

Jessica Vander Velde

Annual dinner will address shootings

Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni said he's begun making plans to address the police officers' slayings at his annual dinner for law enforcement and emergency personnel set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Carillon area Hilton in St. Petersburg.

The dinner was created after the 1993 death of Belleair police Officer Jeffery Tackett, who died from a gunshot after responding to a call alone. Morroni, then a Florida House member, and Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, got a law passed requiring two officers to respond to a call.

The dinner benefits the Police Athletic League, but Morroni said he anticipates providing the families of the slain officers with part of the proceeds this year. He also said he has asked St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster to address Monday's shootings at the dinner.

The dinner after Sept. 11 stirred emotions, but Morroni expects the shootings to do even more.

"It definitely will set a different tone," Morroni said of the shootings.

David DeCamp

Slain officers honored on U.S. House floor

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, honored the slain officers on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday evening. Here are his remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise to inform my colleagues of a tragedy that took place in St. Petersburg, Fla., this morning. Two St. Petersburg police officers, Sergeant Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, were killed in the line of duty and a deputy U.S. marshal whose name I cannot release just yet was seriously injured while serving a warrant. This is a sober reminder that the men and women who serve us as law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day. In the past 24 hours alone, 11 law enforcement officers across our nation have been shot in the line of duty. It is my hope that my colleagues will keep the families of Sergeant Baitinger, Officer Yaslowitz and our deputy U.S. marshal in their prayers during this difficult time. It is also a good time to say thank you for all those who serve us in uniform at home or abroad. Mr. Speaker, God bless the families of those who were killed and wounded this morning."

After St. Petersburg police shootings, widows' grief comes flooding back 01/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 11:21pm]
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