New Jersey police officer Charles "Rob" Roberts has died at the age of 45, according to a statement posted to the Glen Ridge Police Department's Facebook page. The father of three's cause of death was the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In the statement, Chief Sheila Byron-Lagattuta paid tribute to the 20-year police force veteran.
"Officer Roberts worked tirelessly at keeping our community safe and I can say with certainty that he was known by face or name by both children and adults alike after serving the Borough for twenty years."
Roberts died on Monday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, almost three weeks after he was first hospitalized. He also spent time at Mountainside Hospital in New Jersey. At one point in his fight against the coronavirus, Roberts' heart stopped. However, his own Glen Ridge Police Department and volunteer ambulance squad performed life-saving measures, allowing him to continue his battle.
Roberts is survived by his wife, Alice Baker Roberts, and three children, Shea, Natalie, and Gavin.
Roberts Was Dedicated To Serving New Jersey
Roberts was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey, before settling down with his wife and children in Glen Ridge. He was the most senior officer in the Glen Ridge Police Department's patrol division, having joined the force in 2000. During his time with the department, Roberts would also serve as a detective, a field training officer, a bicycle officer, a certified car seat installer, and a DARE/LEAD instructor.
Even when he wasn't on the job, Roberts supported the law enforcement community. He participated in events such as the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics and the Tunnel to Towers Run to honor the lives of first responders lost on September 11, 2001.
Byron-Lagattut described Roberts as a "mentor" not only to those in the department, but to the entire Glen Ridge community. The police chief lamented that a life -- which was such a "pillar and staple" to all of those around him -- could have been extinguished in such a manner.
"Rest easy our brother in blue, you will never be forgotten and have left a permanent mark on each life you have touched. To have known you is to have loved you."
Byron-Lagattut added that the police force of Glen Ridge will pay tribute to Roberts' memory by continuing to serve their community. She requested that those impacted by the death of Roberts, along with all first responders impacted by COVID-19, be included in the public's thoughts and prayers.
A GoFundMe Has Been Set Up For Robert's Family
Following the tragic news of Roberts' passing, a GoFundMe was set up to raise money for his family by a group that described themselves as the "Glen Ridge High School Class of 1993." The fundraiser's description paid tribute to the fallen officer.
"Officer Roberts was the face of the Glen Ridge Police Department and a shining example of an officer dedicated to serving the community, as well as being a devoted father and husband."
As of publishing, almost $180,000 has been raised in support of Roberts' family, well beyond the original $155,000 target. Just under 1,400 people have contributed donations to the cause.