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."
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.