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Two Tampa police officers killed during traffic stop

9:11 PM, Jun 29, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Calling this "a very bleak day for us in Tampa," Mayor Pam Iorio and Police Chief Jane Castor shared details of the two "great officers" shot by a suspect Tuesday morning. Both officers have died from their injuries.

Officer Jeff Kocab had served with the Tampa Police Department for just over a year, after spending time with the Plant City Police Department.

Photo Gallery: Two Tampa Police officers shot and killed

Kocab's wife is nine months pregnant. She is due to deliver their baby in one week.

Officer Dave Curtis had been with TPD for about four years, after previously serving as a jail deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

"Family man" is the phrase that fits Curtis best, Castor said. He has four sons -- ages 9, 8, 5, and 8 months.

Curtis worked for Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office from 2002 to 2006. He worked both as a detention deputy at the county jails and in the prisoner transportation division.

His supervisor there Lt. Luis Llauger describes him as "a great guy" with a positive attitude. "He always had a grin on his face," says Llauger.

While Curtis was good at his jail job, Llauger says Curtis also wanted to be the one "bringing the bad guys in", so that's why Curtis obtained the additional training necessary to become a Tampa Police Officer.

Officer Kocab was named Officer of the Year in Plant City in 2006, before he came to Tampa. Kocab's field training officer, Jason Morgan called him a "phenomenal officer, a real go-getter." Kokab "showed immense compassion and caring, no matter who you were," said Officer Morgan. "He was just a great, great person."

The wives of both officers traveled to Tampa General Hospital in the dark hours of Tuesday morning. Officer Kocab's wife had to drive from the family's home in far eastern Polk County to join other family members and officers at TGH.

Kocab's mother lives in Kissimmee, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. She was informed of her son's death by Osceola County Sheriff's deputies.

At a news conference just before sunrise, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio could barely hold back her emotions as she shared the details she had learned while waiting with the officers' families inside the hospital.

Condolences: Leave your message for the fallen officers' families here

"This a very bleak day for us in Tampa," she said, pausing several times to collect herself.  After she stepped away from the podium and the camera lights switched off, she turned around and quietly burst into tears.

Governor Charlie Crist released the following statement about Tuesday's shooting:

"This morning, two brave and courageous Tampa police officers were caught in the line of fire during a routine traffic stop.  Officers Curtis and Kocab exemplify the sacrifice our law enforcement officers make every day as they work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.  These men had an innate passion for serving the people of Florida, and our state is better because of their commitment to excellence.  I know they will be missed by the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County community.  This is a truly tremendous loss.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of Officers Curtis and Kocab during this difficult time."

A massive manhunt continues to track down the suspect who shot these two TPD officers. Learn more about the investigation here.

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