JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Charlie Kondek was a law enforcement officer for 22 years: five years in New York, 17 years in Florida.

In 2014, Charlie Kondek was only three years away from retirement.

"This is when we should be traveling," said Teresa Kondek, Charlie Kondek's wife.

Their dreams of retirement, however, didn't happen.

"It is a little upsetting," she said. "Because it was preventable."

Charlie and Teresa Kondek were married for 18 years. They had five children.

She worked at the Clerk of Courts and he was an officer with the Tarpon Springs Police Department. Many would consider their work schedules insane because they were on completely opposite schedules, but perfect for two working parents.

"He worked midnight and I worked days," she said. "We did not have daycare it was really expensive, especially with five."

She said Christmas was Charlie Kondek's favorite time of year. On December 2014, four days before Christmas, her doorbell rang at 3:11 a.m.

"Charlie had told me if you see a Tarpon Springs Police uniform at the door, I'm not coming home," she said.

That night, she said she saw his sergeant and a number of police vehicles in her driveway. Teresa Kondek said she tried calling her husband before going to the door.

"There was a hard knock on the door over and over," she said.

There was no answer so she decided to call police dispatch and the communications center, thinking maybe they could reach him.

"There was just a pause, so I started getting nervous," she said. "I told her who I was and I just needed to speak to him, there was still quiet. I started asking if he's ok and she said 'Is there someone at the door?' She said 'you just need to answer the door.'"

She answered the door and learned her husband died on the job. He was shot and killed by a gun that was stolen from an unlocked vehicle in Jacksonville, about 206 miles away, four months prior.

"Look how far this gun traveled,' said Teresa Kondek. "If that person had locked their door, I wouldn't be where I am now. My husband wouldn't be dead, my husband would be retired, my kids would have a father."

Charlie Kondek responded to a complaint about blaring car stereo. Moments later, he called for backup. His next call was "officer down."

When his fellow officers arrived, they found him on the pavement with a gunshot near his collarbone.

"He shot seven times at my husband to try to escape," she said. "There are still sometimes I'm a little angry thinking about it because there is a slight chance my husband would be here if that gun was locked in the car like it should have been."

The shooter, Marco Parillo, sped away driving over Kondek before crashing into a utility pole.

The convicted felon was arrested. After three years in jail, Parillo pleaded guilty and a jury sentenced him to life in prison.

This December will mark four years since Officer Charlie Kondek was killed in the line of duty, but Teresa Kondek said the the loss seems like yesterday.

"It is a little easier, but the grief never goes away," she said.

Since his death, one of his daughters got married; one of his sons is following his footsteps into law enforcement.

"He was a good husband, a good dad," she said.

She finds comfort in their memories and small personal items like the her last Mother's Day card from him.

"The hardest days are anniversaries, his birthday and Christmas, which was his favorite day," she said.

Now she attends police memorials across the state to honor his name and his service. Her demonstration of strength has been an encouragement to many.

She has a clear message when it comes to guns in cars: "We all have the right to have guns but we all have the responsibility of keeping them locked ... Lock the door," she said.

Charlie Kondek wore badge 285 and his wife said he was proud of to serve his community. His End of Watch is December 21, 2014.