When Trevor Nettleton decided to follow in his father's footsteps, the retired highway patrol trooper tried to talk his son out of it.
Richard Nettleton warned him about the dangers of police work, but his son insisted on serving his country and his community, first as a Marine and then as a Las Vegas police officer.
Richard Nettleton pinned the badge on his son's uniform when he joined the Metropolitan Police Department three years ago.
"I was never more proud in my life," he said from his home in Yakima, Wash.
But Trevor Nettleton's dream of a long career in law enforcement was cut short Thursday when he became a victim of the kind of crime he had dedicated himself to fighting. The patrol officer had hoped to "get his 30 years in" and retire, his father said. Instead, he was gunned down in the garage of his North Las Vegas home during an attempted robbery, police said.
The officer's violent death was the third for the Police Department this year, making 2009 the deadliest year in the department's history.
Two North Las Vegas men and one male juvenile have been arrested in connection with the slaying: Prentice Marshall, 18, Saul Williams Jr., 20, and a 17-year-old who was not identified by North Las Vegas police.
Nettleton had just finished his shift with the Police Department's Bolden Area Command and was at home in street clothes when he was randomly attacked about 12:18 a.m. on Emerald Stone Avenue, near Lone Mountain Road and Bruce Street, said North Las Vegas police, the agency investigating the slaying.
The 30-year-old father of two young children acted as a "hero" because he was protecting family members who were inside the home during the attack, police said. After multiple suspects entered his open garage, Nettleton fired his weapon during an exchange of bullets.
"He leaves behind two small children who now only know the greatness of their father by the stories they are told, rather than knowing firsthand," Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said.
Richard Nettleton said his son was the father of a 2-year-old boy, Tanner, and a 2-month-old girl, Quinn. The children were in the home during the attack with Trevor's wife, Danielle, and his mother, who was visiting for Thanksgiving, Richard Nettleton said.
The male adult suspects in custody have gang affiliations and one lives on a street near the slain officer's house, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Marshall, reported to be a junior at Mojave High School, was a starting guard last season on a varsity basketball team that went 17-9. The Rattlers lost in the Sunset Region quarterfinals.
Williams, last known to attend Rancho High School, was arrested in 2008 on charges of possession of a stolen firearm and carrying a concealed weapon. According to his arrest report, he had tried to flee from officers. When officers caught him, they found a .32 caliber handgun near him that had been stolen from a Henderson residence. Williams told police he needed the gun for "protection" and had bought it for $80, according to the report.
He pleaded guilty to attempting to carry a concealed firearm and was given probation. Williams later violated that probation and was sentenced on June 22 to six months in jail, with 35 days credit for time served.
North Las Vegas police Sgt. Tim Bedwell said Marshall was being treated for nonlife threatening gunshot wounds at University Medical Center. He is under police guard and faces a charge of murder with a deadly weapon.
Bedwell said Williams is being held on the same charge at the North Las Vegas Detention Center.
The 17-year-old suspect, a North Las Vegas resident, was arrested late Thursday night and booked into the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center. He faces charges of murder with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery with a weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Bedwell wouldn't provide details about who shot the officer.
Although Nettleton was not on the clock, Gillespie said, he was technically on duty because it is department policy to consider personnel who resort to deadly force with a weapon as being on duty.
"If he wasn't acting in a capacity of a police officer out there this morning, I would like for someone to convince me otherwise," Gillespie said.
Richard Nettleton said his son's death was senseless.
"I can understand if it (happened) on the street," he said. "But not in his house. ... Not in his house. I wish it had been me and not him."
Trevor Nettleton was one of several officers recognized for saving residents from a burning apartment complex in 2007. Thursday, Emerald Stone Avenue residents remembered Nettleton as one of the best neighbors on the block and said he knew most of the children in the neighborhood.
"He was a good officer, a good father and a good friend," said Margarita Luna, who has three children. "I'm going to miss him terribly."
Luna, 36, said her husband works nights. Nettleton also got off work late. He had told Luna that he would check the outside of her house when he came home to make sure she was safe.
"When I'd see him come home, I'd sleep better," she said.
He also helped tutor her 9-year-old son in math sometimes, she said.
Neighbors said they rarely saw Nettleton's patrol car. Some didn't know he was an officer. The street his family lives on is dotted with vacant homes and "for sale" signs. Neighbors blamed the recession for several crimes that have plagued the neighborhood and the surrounding area recently.
After midnight Wednesday, 39-year-old Ursula Adedje said she heard a car with a loud muffler pull up in front of her house, which is near Nettleton's home. She heard a car door open and then slam, as if someone was being dropped off.
Then she said she heard four loud booms, which sounded like gunshots. She said she heard several other shots that sounded as if they were from a smaller gun. She then heard a car speed away.
"It hurts my heart," Adedje said of what happened.
North Las Vegas police wouldn't comment on whether additional suspects are being sought.
Richard Nettleton said his son served for nine years as a Marine and spent the last two years of his duty working in communications at the White House. On his final day of work there, Trevor invited his dad to Washington, D.C., to meet President George W. Bush.
"I got a photograph with him and the president in the Oval Office," said Richard Nettleton, who last spoke with his son last week. "That picture will always be on my wall. That will always be a memory."
Shortly after he was discharged from the Marines, Nettleton moved to Las Vegas to work as a police officer, his father said.
Nettleton's body was transported from his home to the Clark County coroner's office by a procession of about 15 police patrol cars and motorcycles.
The motorcade reached its destination about 11 a.m. Officers formed rows from the receiving garage to the van and saluted as Nettleton's body was lowered onto a stretcher and moved into the building.
Once the body was inside, the grieving officers comforted one another.
Joseph Forti, North Las Vegas police chief, described the distress that follows a late-night phone call involving a slain officer.
"When you hear something like this, your heart sinks into the pit of your stomach," Forti said. "All of us who are in law enforcement will feel this loss as one."
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