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Tampa officer was on his back when shot dead

TAMPA — Cpl. Mike Roberts was on his back when his assailant pointed a .45-caliber pistol at him and fired a fatal shot, according to a police document filed in court.

Investigators quickly learned that murder suspect Humberto Delgado had been heavily armed. They found four firearms in his possession, including an assault rifle they say he pointed at a sergeant after shooting Roberts, a veteran Tampa police officer.

But they hadn't seen Delgado's whole collection. A search of his storage unit the next day turned up another rifle, ammunition and other gun paraphernalia, according to a document filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court after the search warrant was executed.

It's unclear why Delgado was so heavily armed when Roberts approached him shortly before 10 p.m. Aug. 19 at Nebraska Avenue near Arctic Street.

Delgado shot the officer with a Taurus Millennium .45-caliber pistol, Tampa police Detective Salvatore Augeri and Pinellas Sheriff's Detective Keith Johnson wrote in the search warrant affidavit.

The next day, when the detectives visited Unit 147 in Building D of the Public Storage facility at 4080 E Tampa Road in Oldsmar, they found a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle with a scope and laser sight, a Department of Veterans Affairs identification card, two clips of .22-caliber ammunition in Butler Creek magazines and a wooden box holding numerous rounds of ammunition.

Police also found the Shooter's Bible, a reference book for firearms products published annually for 80 years.

Someone accessed the storage unit the day of the killing, the detectives wrote in their warrant.

Police also took into evidence a two-page, handwritten letter, two thumb drives, three compact discs, a letter from Veterans Affairs, a marriage license and a birth certificate.

Police did not comment on the contents of those items Monday.

The night of the killing, Roberts stopped Delgado to question him. There had been burglaries in the area, and Roberts notified radio dispatchers he would be stopping a suspicious person. Delgado, police say, was pushing a gray shopping cart down Nebraska Avenue.

Somehow the meeting turned to a struggle. Though Roberts tried to used his Taser against Delgado, police say, Delgado ran across the street and then started pistol-whipping Roberts. The officer wore a bulletproof vest, but the bullet penetrated his chest through his unprotected shoulder, police say.

When Delgado was arrested, police found in his possession a Taurus Millennium .45-caliber pistol, a Kel Tec PLR 16 assault rifle, and a .22-caliber revolver, the search warrant affidavit says.

And in a brown camouflage backpack police say Delgado left at the scene, detectives recovered a 9mm Glock 17 pistol, an extended magazine with 31 live 9mm rounds and another magazine containing 31 rounds of .223 ammunition, records say.

They also found his Florida driver's license, clothing and, inside the grocery cart, four receipts for five weapons from Guns Plus in Spring Lake, N.C., near Fort Bragg.

A man who answered the phone at Guns Plus Monday said no one at the shop would discuss the matter.

Two of the receipts police found match the Kel Tec PLR 16 and the Glock 17 recovered the night of the shooting.

Still unknown is what became of the other weapons for which Delgado had receipts.

Among other items police said they took into evidence from Delgado's storage unit were:

• Two black knee braces.

• A North Carolina driver's license.

• Boxes for several firearms and firearms-related items, including a Glock 17, a Taurus .45-caliber pistol, a holster, a Burras Fast Fire laser sight, and a UTG Tactical laster sight.

• A certificate for a firearms safety course.

Delgado's stepmother told a St. Petersburg Times reporter just after the shooting that her stepson was visibly frustrated with the VA the day before the killing.

Delgado told her the VA had promised him housing by Aug. 17. But the only bed it had for him was with veterans who were physically or mentally ill, Annette Delgado said at the time.

Born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Humberto Delgado served as a police officer there for four years until 2000. He also served in the U.S. Army for a short time until he was honorably discharged after hurting his back and knee in an accident.

Two days before Roberts' shooting, a Pinellas sheriff's deputy encountered Delgado sleeping in a picnic pavilion at 1 a.m. Delgado told the deputy he was a disabled veteran trying to get government help finding a home.

Roberts, 38, was a decorated police officer, a husband and a father of 3-year-old boy. He had also served with the Army Reserves and Air Force Reserves.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

Tampa officer was on his back when shot dead 08/31/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:59am]

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