TAMPA — A memorial was held Monday to mark the passing of 10 years since Cpl. Mike Roberts was shot and killed in the line of duty.
The Tampa police officer died Aug. 19, 2009, while responding to a report of a suspicious person in a neighborhood where a number of burglaries had been committed. He found himself confronting a heavily armed man with a history of paranoid delusions.
The 38-year-old Roberts came across Humberto Delgado Jr., who had pushed a small arsenal in a shopping cart 15 miles from Oldsmar to Tampa. During the encounter, Delgado ran, the corporal took off after him, and a struggle ensured.
Delgado beat the corporal with a handgun, then while Roberts lay on the ground unconscious, fatally shot him. Police quickly captured Delgado and discovered he had several weapons with him, including an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
The defendant was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to death. The Florida Supreme Court later overturned that sentence. Delago, now 44, will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Roberts served 11 years with the Tampa Police Department and also served in the Army during the Persian Gulf War.
"It has been 10 years; it seems like it was yesterday," current Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said at Monday's ceremony. "Today's event serves as a reminder both to the public and to the department just how dangerous it is to be a police officer."
Dugan and Sgt. Douglas Burkett placed a floral wreath in Roberts' honor at the monument for fallen officers outside the Tampa Police Department's downtown headquarters.
Also attending were Roberts' family and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who was an assistant police chief at the time of the 2009 shooting. She became chief of police later that year.
"It is difficult to believe that 10 years have transpired since the death of Cpl. Roberts ...," Castor said. "For those of us close to this incident, we will forever remember every minute of that night.
"I would ask the citizens of Tampa to recognize the inherent risks in being a police officer and be very thankful that there are those among us whose choose to protect and serve."