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Two Tampa policemen shot, killed during traffic stop

| Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TAMPA, Fla. — Two Tampa police officers were killed in an early-morning shooting during a traffic stop that has prompted a massive manhunt for two suspects.

Officer David Curtis pulled over a red Toyota Camry around 2:15 a.m. because it didn't have a visible tag. He called for back up after a background check revealed the male passenger in the car was wanted on a misdemeanor charge for writing a worthless check, Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

Six minutes after the traffic stop, a witness called to say Curtis and Officer Jeffrey Kocab had been shot. Authorities arrived to find them lying on the ground.

Helicopters, police dogs and dozens of officers searched for the passenger, who is believed to be the shooter. A female who was driving the car was also being sought, McElroy said.

"We know they are armed and extremely dangerous," McElroy said. "We don't know what else they're capable of."

A few dozen officers in bulletproof vests combed the area for evidence, digging through trash cans and knocking on doors. Police from several surrounding cities responded.

The shooting happened on a main road near Interstate 4, which stretches from Tampa, through Orlando and into Daytona Beach.

Authorities had IDs on both suspects, but weren't sure if they were stolen.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and Mayor Pam Iorio announced Kocab's death at a news conference at the hospital where the officers were taken. Dozens of somber officers filled the hospital.

Curtis died hours later.

"Our hearts are just breaking. It is so very tragic," Iorio said.

Kocab was a 14-month veteran with the force. His wife is nine months pregnant, police said. Curtis, a father of four boys, had nearly four years with the department.

This is the region's second incident of law enforcers being shot in less than a week. Two Polk County deputies were shot early Friday in Lakeland after stopping a man riding a bicycle. They are expected to recover.

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