New Jersey

NJ Police Officer With COVID-19 Is Town's First Line-of-Duty Death in 125 Years

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A small town in New Jersey is mourning the loss of its first officer in 125 years after he died from COVID-19 complications.

Known as the "unofficial mayor of Glen Ridge," 20-year police veteran Charles "Rob" Roberts was hospitalized on April 21 after his heart stopped, a family friend told NBC New York. The only symptom he had was a headache and the 45-year-old had no known underlying medical conditions before he contracted the coronavirus.

The father of three tried his best to prevent others from getting the virus by telling people in public places to social distance but he somehow became infected himself. A friend of Roberts' wife, Eileen Ippolito, says the officer previously tested negative for the virus but a second test later confirmed his infection.

Blue hearts were posted around the neighborhood to show support for the Roberts family as Charles fought for his life.

"[They're] just a wonderful family and Rob was just an amazing, amazing man," Ippolito said. She works with Charles' wife, Alice Roberts, at the local elementary school.

With Charles still hospitalized at Mountainside Hospital on Monday, Alice went on and taught her online class. She later went to the hospital, knowing that she was going to say her last goodbye to her husband.

"Alice is one strong woman. One strong woman," Ippolito said.

On Monday night, teachers and neighbors lit candles to support Alice and her children, mourning the town's first line-of-duty death in over a century.

"Rob was an active member of the police department and he served the residents of Glen Ridge with distinction and honor, he lived a beautiful life and had a positive impact on everyone he touched. Words cannot express how sad we are, please continue to pray for him, his family, friends, and colleagues," the Glen Ridge police department said.

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