Slain Tampa Police Officer Remembered in Kandahar
August 24, 2009
- Several members of the 143d ESC are also Tampa police officer and worked with Cpl. Roberts
- Cpl. Roberts was honored by colleagues thousands of miles away in Afghanistan
- When confronting a homeless man, Roberts was fatally shot in the line of duty
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Colleagues of a Tampa law enforcement officer killed Aug 19 in the line of duty took time to pay their respects to a fellow policeman, soldier and friend at Kandahar Airfield.
Several Army Reserve members of the Orlando-based 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command, who also serve as Tampa police officers in their civilian capacity, remembered Cpl. Mike Roberts, who was killed by a heavily-armed homeless man.
"Cpl. Roberts was a friend and a comrade both behind the badge and in the U.S. Army uniform," said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Prebich of Riverview, Fla., a Tampa detective serving as the noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of the 143d ESC commander's security detail. "People like Mike Roberts are rare. He was a calm and funny giant that you could always depend on."
According to Prebich, Roberts held the rank of specialist with the 810th Military Police Company in Tampa. He also served previously in the Air Force as a security forces member. "He had 11 years with the Tampa Police Department, and was recently promoted to corporal," Prebich said.
Cpl. Roberts died while confronting a homeless man who, according to Prebich, pulled out an assault rifle and opened fire. "He was shot through the vest with an AR 15, 5.56 assault rifle," Prebich said.
The Tampa police officers with the 143d ESC collectively decided to dedicate a flag flown over the Joint Sustainment Command - Afghanistan headquarters in Kandahar to their fallen comrade. They also combined resources to have a plaque made that displays the folded U.S. flag flown over Kandahar and a certificate of authenticity to be presented to Roberts' wife, Cindy.
This flag was flown during the same hour of Roberts' death, according to Prebich. Upon learning of the officer's death, the men decided to dedicate the flag in his honor.
"The flag is raised every morning by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Segreaves. We are 8.5 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone," Prebich said. "According to reports, Cpl. Roberts was shot at about 2200 hours (10 p.m.) local time in Tampa. This means that the flag was flying during his last moments on this earth...this flag was flying when he passed."
Another ironic part, explained Prebich, is that the Soldier who raised the flag, Segreaves, of Orlando, Fla., served with Roberts in the 810th MP Company.
"The military tradition of presenting "The Colors" to a Fallen Comrade's next of kin is part of the memorial ceremony," said Command Sergeant Major Michael Schultz of Safety Harbor, Fla., senior enlisted leader of the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan.
Military honors are also rendered in the law enforcement community. "We thought the best way to honor Mike was to fly the US Colors in his honor. We dedicated this flag to him and wanted his family to know that although we weren't there in presence, we were there in Spirit," said Schultz.
The suspect, Humberto Delgado Jr., a former police officer and soldier, had four weapons concealed in a shopping cart. According to an article on Tampabay.com, Delgado was separated from the Army because of knee and back injuries. Police say Delgado was likely on his way to the local Veterans Administration with his weapons when he was confronted by Roberts. In giving his life, Roberts many have saved many, according to Prebich.