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Tampa police officer killed; suspect arrested

Published: August 19, 2009 Updated: March 23, 2013 at 07:08 AM
An arrest has been made in late Wednesday's shooting death of Tampa police Cpl. Mike Roberts.Humberto Delgado, 34, who gave his address as 324 Country Club Drive in Oldsmar, was arrested and charged shortly before 5 a.m. today with first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and carrying a concealed firearm.Roberts, 38, was an 11-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department. He recently had been promoted from the department's K-9 unit and just Wednesday took a position with the hit-and-run squad, where he was on track to become a detective.The shooting happened about 10 p.m. Wednesday, when Roberts responded to a report of a suspicious man pushing a shopping cart full of items near Nebraska Avenue and Arctic Street. There have been several burglaries in that area, police said.Police said a fight ensued after Roberts confronted the man and tried to use his Taser.Delgado ran across the road and Roberts tackled him, police said. Delgado pulled out a pistol and hit Roberts on the head, police said.Delgado then shot Roberts, police said. Roberts was wearing a protective vest, but the bullet went through an exposed area under his arm. Delgado ran back to the shopping cart and grabbed a canvas bag as another officer arrived. Delgado pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from the bag and aimed it at the second officer, police said. Delgado then fled while the officer stayed to assist Roberts, police said.Hillsborough Fire Rescue paramedics worked on Roberts, but he died about an hour later at Tampa General Hospital.As word of the shooting spread, dozens of officers, police Chief Steve Hogue and Mayor Pam Iorio gathered at the hospital late Wednesday."It's a tragic day in Tampa today,"' an emotional Hogue said early today outside the hospital. "We've lost a veteran police officer."Roberts is survived by his wife and 3-year-old son. Police said he won a lifesaving award in 2005 and had received dozens of letters of appreciation from citizens. He had also served in the Air Force and Army."May his son grow up knowing that his father was our hero," Iorio said in statement this morning.The mayor offered condolences and prayers to Roberts' wife, son and extended family and the family of the Tampa Police Department."Corporal Roberts served as an example of the outstanding commitment and dedication of our police force," Iorio's statement said.Iorio has declared that all City of Tampa flags be lowered to half-staff on all city facilities in memory of Roberts .Roberts was known for his sense of humor and practical jokes that could make anyone smile, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. He was also a goalie for the Tampa Police Department hockey team."We've got 50 police officers crying right now,"' Hogue said."He was the best, and that's what we lost tonight,'' Iorio said at the hospital.A police dog tracked Delgado to the backyard of a nearby residence on Yukon Street. He had three pistols and the rifle on him when arrested, police said. The shopping cart contained military-type gear and numerous ammunition magazines for the guns. The man had a receipt saying the guns were purchased in Fort Bragg, N.C.Hogue said the call started out routine - a suspicious person - and quickly turned dangerous."This is the nature of police work,"' Hogue said.A woman who lives near the scene said she heard a popping sound shortly after 10 p.m. She then heard an officer on an intercom shouting, "Backup, backup, backup.""There were a whole bunch of cops immediately," said the woman, who would identify herself only as C. Williams.Williams said she had moved to the area only a few months ago. "It makes me want to pack and move," she said.Tampa police say they investigated six homicides in the first six months of this year. Roberts' death marks the seventh slaying since July 1.