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Slain Tampa police officer's name added to memorial

TAMPA — A little boy in his mother's arms peeled away a stencil, revealing the spot where granite was removed to spell his father's name.

Corporal Michael J. Roberts: Now etched in stone outside the Tampa Police Department's downtown headquarters, the 29th addition to the "Roll Call of Honor", a monument to officers killed on duty.

Adam, 3, sat on his mother Cynthia's hip while dozens of officers, Mayor Pam Iorio and police Chief Stephen Hogue looked on silently. Roberts' photo was propped up nearby.

Roberts died Wednesday night when a man pushing a shopping cart full of weapons shot him on a Sulphur Springs street corner.

"I can tell you that this name represents a lot," Chief Hogue said after the subdued ceremony. "It's a particularly senseless death in this case."

The memorial became a gathering place for mourners in the hours and days after Cpl. Roberts was gunned down. People stopped to cry or pray, leaving the front of Tampa police headquarters, 411 N Franklin St., flooded with flowers, candles and cards.

"After all of us are gone, he will still be remembered for his service and sacrifice to this city and this community," Hogue said.

Sgt. Paul Mumford, who was the first back-up officer to arrive the night Roberts died, spoke about his last moments with his good friend.

"I'm glad that I was there that night," Mumford said, his voice cracking. "With his help, we'll be able to continue as a squad."

Police charged 34-year-old Humberto Delgado in Roberts' killing. Delgado, a former police officer originally from the Virgin Islands, suffered from mental illness after serving in the Army, family said. He had been homeless for at least a few days after he was thrown out of his family's Oldsmar home because his relatives didn't approve of his dogs staying there, among other things.

Delgado is being held without bail at the Hillsborough County Jail. During his first appearance Friday, a judge noted that the death penalty could be an option. Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek that punishment.

Hogue said the investigation into Delgado's motive for the shooting continues in "full force," but offered no new information.

A wake for Roberts will be from 6 to 9 p.m. today at Blount and Curry Funeral Home, 3207 W Bearss Ave.

St. Timothy Catholic Church will be the site of Cpl. Roberts' memorial service at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The church is at 17512 Lakeshore Drive, Lutz.

As this morning's memorial ceremony ended, downtown workers returned to their offices, news crews dispersed and a group of police officers formed a circle around the granite, heads down, hands folded, quiet.

Slain Tampa police officer's name added to memorial 08/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 3:21pm]
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