Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tears, gratitude for slain St. Petersburg police officers

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster greets mourners at the entrance of First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg on Friday.


St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster greets mourners at the entrance of First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg on Friday.

When the funerals were over, St. Petersburg police Officer Cedric Doss, 43, stood in the afternoon sun shading his eyes, blinking back tears. He has been on the force 18 years, and though he had been to plenty of other police funerals, he had never been to one for someone he knew.

"It hurts. I mean …" his voice trailed off. He wiped his eyes. "I was inside for the service, but the worst part was when I came out here. That last call, hearing that for them both, that's the saddest song you ever want to hear. I've heard it before, but you never get used to it. Those guys were friends of mine, which makes it that much harder. It's just all so … I can't even express how sad this is."

• • •

St. Petersburg police Officer Ron Wolfson said the outpouring of support has been heartening.

"It means a lot to us," he said. "That public support is a positive sign officers don't always see."

He called Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz and Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger "really, really good people."

They were "hard working and dedicated, they always gave 100 percent."

He said the last call was difficult to hear.

"That dispatch thing really hit me hard," he said. "It got us all choked up."

• • •

Pat Yatsui, 59, sat with her mother-in-law, Miyo Yatsui, 95, in the bleachers outside the church. Both clutched American flags as they watched giant screens showing the service inside.

Pat, an insurance agent, watched the shooting unfold on the news. "We walked here this morning because this is all just so terrible. . . . I can't stand that something like this happened in our city. I came to support our police and show them I appreciate everything they do."

"It's so sad . . . but look around," she said, scanning the large crowd. "I'm so proud to be part of this community."

• • •

As the funeral procession was en route to Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery in Clearwater, a few women gathered in the northeast corner to quietly honor the fallen officers. They said they watched the service on TV and felt the need to pay their own respects.

"I cried through the whole thing,'' said Shirley Rayner, 43, of Clearwater. "It's just so sad. There's not anybody in Pinellas County this isn't affecting."

She was there with her cousin Yaslyn Washington, 54. "What is this world really coming to?'' Washington wondered aloud. "There's so much violence when we all need to come together as one.''

• • •

If you needed a police officer in St. Petersburg on Friday, a sheriff's deputy most likely responded. The deputies stepped in to take St. Petersburg's calls for service so the city's officers could attend the funerals, said Sgt. Tom Nestor, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

• • •

An annual appreciation dinner for law enforcement and emergency personnel Friday night became a heartfelt tribute to the slain officers. Pictures of Officer Yaslowitz and Sgt. Baitinger flanked the stage. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, whose city lost two officers to violence last year, embraced.

"I know from experience that grief will last and take many forms," Iorio told the crowd.

"The events that occurred on Monday were unexpected to all of us, but really not necessarily unexpected to law enforcement," Foster said. "Because every day, they put on that badge, that vest, that Taser, that equipment that goes with their job, they know that they may be challenged by evil."

The crowd of 500, many of them politicians and judges, stood and cheered the mayors at the Hilton hotel in St. Petersburg's Carillon area.

The annual dinner was started by Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni in 1995, after the fatal shooting of Belleair police Officer Jeffery Tackett in 1993. This year's event was a fundraiser for the county's Police Athletic League, but Morroni said part of the proceeds will go to the families of the slain officers.

• • •

On a telephone near First Baptist Church, someone tacked up two blue posterboard signs, written in a child's handwriting:

"Thank you for helping us and we will never forget you"

"Thank you for making St. Pete a beter (sic) place."

Lane DeGregory, Curtis Krueger, Danny Valentine, Rita Farlow and David DeCamp contributed to this report.

Tears, gratitude for slain St. Petersburg police officers 01/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 11:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kremlin dismisses U.S. warning of chemical attack in Syria (w/video)


    .1103< AP-EU-Russia-Syria,252

    Eds: Rewrites top.

    MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed the White House's warning that the Syrian government is preparing a new chemical attack and that President Bashar Assad and his military "will pay a heavy price" if it goes ahead.

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, third right, prays on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the Nouri Mosque in Hama, Syria, Sunday, June 25, 2017. [SANA via AP]
  2. EU announces record $2.7 billion antitrust fine on Google over search results


    BRUSSELS — The European Union's antitrust chief announced a record $2.7 billion fine against Google on Tuesday, saying that the powerful company illegally steered users toward its comparison shopping website.

    The European Union's competition watchdog has slapped a record 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine on internet giant Google for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service. [Associated Press file photo]
  3. Forecast: Muggy, warm conditions across Tampa Bay as afternoon storms stay mostly east of I-75


    A muggy and slightly wet day is in on tap for Tampa Bay as most of the rain sticks east of Interstate 75 in the afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Trigaux: No more VinikVille as Water Street Tampa finally arrives


    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.&#13;[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]&#13;
  5. Finally, Jeff Vinik's vision has a name: Water Street Tampa


    TAMPA — For years, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the real estate executives he employs have been dreaming how to transform 53 acres of downtown Tampa into a major hub of living, working and entertaining in the city's core.

    Strategic Property Partners announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. This rendering shows the Tampa skyline with SPP's future buildings in place. [Photos courtesy of SPP]