A life cut short

Everton McLean
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St. John's-raised police officer killed in line of duty

Kerry Tobin strains to explain the kind of man his friend, Cpl. Mike Roberts, was, grappling with the fact his good friend's life has been cut short.

Roberts, a 38-year-old highly respected Tampa Police officer, was killed Wednesday night when he confronted a suspicious man on a Tampa, Fla., street. Police say the man pulled a gun, smashed Roberts in the face with it and then shot him.

Newfoundland-raised Cpl. Mike Roberts is shown in this submitted photo, taken while he served with the K-9 division of the Tampa Police Department. Roberts was killed in the line of duty Wednesday night. Submitted photo

Kerry Tobin strains to explain the kind of man his friend, Cpl. Mike Roberts, was, grappling with the fact his good friend's life has been cut short.

Roberts, a 38-year-old highly respected Tampa Police officer, was killed Wednesday night when he confronted a suspicious man on a Tampa, Fla., street. Police say the man pulled a gun, smashed Roberts in the face with it and then shot him.

Humberto Delgado, 39, was arrested and charged with first degree murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and having a concealed firearm.

Tobin, who grew up with Roberts in St. John's and was a close friend, got the news early Thursday.

At first, he couldn't accept that the person who was the best man at his wedding, and who earned a business degree beside him at Memorial University, was dead.

He had to read a newspaper article about the incident before it finally set in.

"He was a great guy. He'd do anything for you. I can't believe it," he said, stopping to take a breath.

"It's unbelievable. He just got a promotion ... and for that to happen."

Tampa Police Lt. Brian Dugan said Roberts was known as a good police officer.

A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Roberts served in the United States military and did a nine-month tour of Bosnia before getting his dream job as a Tampa Police officer 11 years ago.

Dugan said Roberts went on to earn a position on the highly competitive K-9 unit, and in July he was given a promotion, reaching the rank of corporal.

"He was going to be assigned to our detective division," said Dugan.

What's more, Dugan said, he was also about to be given a position with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning security team, something the avid hockey fan wanted badly.

Dugan, who heads the security team, said it was just Wednesday night that he thought about calling Roberts to tell him the exciting news.

"I was actually going to offer Mike a position," he said.

Dugan said Roberts received many accolades during his career, including a Life Saving Award in 2005 and several letters of appreciation.

In his private life, both Tobin and Dugan said Roberts was a devoted family man and a well-liked person.

"He had a very outgoing personality. He was quite the comedian," Dugan said.

Tobin said Roberts was particularly devoted to his three-year-old son, Adam.

He said Roberts' wife doesn't know what to say to the child about the loss.

Tobin plans to go to a memorial service for Roberts, who is being buried with full police honours, but first he and some old friends are holding their own memorial in St. John's, gathering for a celebration to honour their friend, who Tobin said was always the life of the party.

"We used to have good times here. We're going to get together tonight and have a little celebration for him," said Tobin. "That's what he would want."

A memorial site for Roberts has also been set up at www.legacy. com/gb2/default.aspx?bookID=8937958561245.

More than 220 messages of condolence were posted there by early evening Thursday.

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning

Geographic location: St. John's, Tampa, Tampa, Fla. United States Canada Bosnia

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Recent comments

  • Diane
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Wondering where this gathering of remembrance for Mike will be. I know family members (cousins) who would be interested in attending.

  • Tammy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    My condolences to Cpl Roberts' family and friends. I am a Newfoundlander living in Los Angeles, California and married to an LAPD Sergeant. Everyday when he walks out that door I pray that he will return to me. The Roberts family is living my worst nightmare and my heart breaks for them. May God give you all strength.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I'm wondering what the life-saving award was for - saving someone's life obviously, but what were the details?

  • Linda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    People of Tampa Bay area are saddened by the loss of this police officer. It's been in our news and by all reports, he was an outstanding officer.
    The man who killed him was reportedly on his way to the local VA hospital to open fire on innocent workers there. Without realizing it, Officer Roberts saved the lives of who knows how many. Many condolences to his family and friends from back home'.

  • Diane
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Wondering where this gathering of remembrance for Mike will be. I know family members (cousins) who would be interested in attending.

  • Tammy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    My condolences to Cpl Roberts' family and friends. I am a Newfoundlander living in Los Angeles, California and married to an LAPD Sergeant. Everyday when he walks out that door I pray that he will return to me. The Roberts family is living my worst nightmare and my heart breaks for them. May God give you all strength.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    I'm wondering what the life-saving award was for - saving someone's life obviously, but what were the details?

  • Linda
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    People of Tampa Bay area are saddened by the loss of this police officer. It's been in our news and by all reports, he was an outstanding officer.
    The man who killed him was reportedly on his way to the local VA hospital to open fire on innocent workers there. Without realizing it, Officer Roberts saved the lives of who knows how many. Many condolences to his family and friends from back home'.