ST. LOUIS – It’s what all police families dread: an officer shot in the line of duty. For Courtney Roethlisberger, February 2, 2023, brought panic, prayers, and flashbacks.
Her husband, St. Louis Metropolitan police officer Lucas Roethlisberger, and his partner, were shot in Soulard while pursuing a vehicle wanted for an armed robbery.
Lucas, 38, has been on the force for 14 years.
“It’s not as bad as last time,” Courtney said. “He was able to come home. Able to walk and talk, and we don’t have to rehabilitate like we did last time.”
“Last time” is a reference to October 2010. Lucas was shot three times during a traffic stop in north St. Louis. The bullets severed his carotid artery.
“He had two strokes. He had to learn how to walk and talk and brush teeth and shave his beard and comb his hair,” Courtney said. “Everything. Everything that we do on a daily basis, he had to relearn.”
Fast forward to the present. The officer is at home and is able to walk around his house. However, the bullet from the shooting hit Lucas on the side of his torso, and it remains lodged in his body.
The Roethlisbergers have three children, the oldest, 15, and the youngest, 4. The younger two were not alive yet when the first shooting happened.
“As a wife, I feel like I’m strong enough to be there. But then when it comes to our kids. It’s heart-wrenching,” Courtney said. “It hurts my soul to see my kids go through this trauma now.”
She said she has been helping them cope with the incident in Soulard.
At the same time, Courtney is learning to cope with the aftermath of both shootings.
“A lot of journaling. Just a lot of reassuring myself that he was going to be ok. Knowing that he was called to do this job, and it’s not a job,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle, and this is what he knows; this is what we know as a family. I wouldn’t take that away from him. He loves what he does. He loves protecting the city. And he wants to make sure that everybody is safe.”
Courtney said that as a police wife, she embraces her husband’s call to duty, praying for his safety every day.
“They go in there, and they do their job because they took that oath. And they live by it,” she said. “All they want to do is create peace and help.”
Courtney said that she is grateful for the support the family has received through texts, emails, and phone calls. The St. Louis Hero Network, she said, provided the family meals, while 6th District officers donated a recliner, the only piece of furniture in which Lucas can sit and rest comfortably, while he recovers from his injuries.
“This recliner has been a life-saver,” she said.
The recovery of her husband will likely take some time. Despite the struggles, Courtney said she is thankful for her family and for her husband’s safety. She said she will remain proud of him as he continues to serve the community.
“Extremely. I tell him every day,” Courtney said.