As early as his days at Silverado High School, friends were sure Milburn "Millie" Beitel was destined for police work.
Former classmate Day Gang, who remained close friends with Beitel after school, remembers teasing her shaved and shined companion about his uncanny resemblance to the school's on-site officer.
"Milburn had always had a shaved head, ever since I knew him. He looked exactly like the bald cop (at school), and we always said he was going to be him," said Gang, 30. "But that was something he liked to hear."
As friends remembered the 30-year-old officer, who was killed in a Wednesday night crash, the condition of his injured partner was upgraded on Friday, and police said the 25-year-old officer was expected to recover from his injuries.
David Nesheiwat, a three-year veteran of the department, was upgraded to serious condition at University Medical Center.
The 2002 Chaparral High School graduate was working with Beitel in the department's saturation team, a collection of officers from different sections and area commands that target high-crime areas, usually at night.
In high school, Nesheiwat was a member of the varsity volleyball team that won the state championship. Between 2003 and 2006 he was a student at the College of Southern Nevada.
CSN political science professor Mark Peplowski remembered him fondly.
"David was a very energetic and intelligent young man," he said. "Very inquisitive, and extremely keen on American politics."
Peplowski came to know him during a 2005 trip he and several CSN students took to Washington, D.C., to watch the Senate in action.
Nesheiwat spoke often of wanting to be a police officer. Peplowski said they kept in touch since Nesheiwat joined the force. Just Monday, the two exchanged voice messages.
"David was, and I pray that he still is, going to be a very, very valuable member of our community for years to come," Peplowski said. "He is a credit to Las Vegas and what the police do for Las Vegas."
Since the crash, the mood throughout the department has been "really, really somber," said Michelle Jotz of the Police Protective Association, which represents 2,500 rank-and-file officers.
"It was really a big blow to our officers," she said.
Both Beitel and Nesheiwat had good reputations as officers and were extremely well-liked, she said.
Beitel's death came on the heels of officer James Manor's fatal crash in May and three years after Sgt. Henry Prendes was shot to death in an ambush.
"To have two in five months and three in a few years is overwhelming," Jotz said.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie acknowledged that the deaths have weighed on the minds of many in the department .
What caused the crash is still unknown, and Gillespie on Friday said he did not want to release information before the investigation is complete.
Many basic questions still remained unanswered, such as who was driving, if the crash was caused by officers trying to avoid something in the roadway and whether the officers were wearing seat belts.
"I know the public wants to know. I know the media wants to know," he said.
Gillespie said he would tell the public what caused the accident as soon as the investigation is over. Investigators are developing a speed workup, in which they perform their own calculations as to how fast the car was traveling and what happened during the crash.
The car also contains a "black box" with its own data, but investigators are not given access to the box's contents until the speed workup is done, Gillespie said. That is routine during investigations, and is done so that the box's contents do not bias the investigators' work, he said.
Investigators have been given as much time as needed to complete their findings.
On Friday, a memorial site at the scene of the crash grew as friends and members of the department remembered Beitel, who, like Nesheiwat, was a local graduate who desired to become a police officer.
Gang said Beitel joined the Marine Corps after graduation, where he gained an almost obsessive compulsion with exercise.
Upon his return, police work was a natural fit for him.
"I have several police officer friends, but Milburn was almost on another level," she said. "He loved being a cop more than anyone."
But on his off-time, Beitel was always willing to support his friends in their own endeavors, Gang said.
He was even supposed to take a few days off this weekend to watch Gang race off-road vehicles in California. Gang said she will still race.
"I'm out here for him," she said.
Between his time spent at the gym, at work, with friends and with his dog, Winston, Beitel was always busy, she said.
He was a positive, honest, loving person, she said, and wasn't one to dwell on the negatives of life.
He wasn't chasing a dream, he was living it, she said.
"I really, truly think he lived his life the way he wanted to every day," she said. "He told us all the time he was so happy to wake up in the morning and go to work."
A close friend in the Police Department, who preferred anonymity, said she met Beitel a year and a half ago and he immediately made an impression.
"When he came into our briefing room, he was always the loudest person you ever heard. He always had something quick-witted to say. Always a smile," the friend said.
He took his job very seriously, she said. He was the type who'd always come home disappointed if he didn't make an arrest.
"He was disappointed if he didn't catch a bad guy, because the streets weren't safer," she said.
Away from work, she said Beitel took his personal life as seriously as his job.
If a friend was in a pinch, stuck at a bar after a few too many drinks, or just in need of an extra hand on moving day, he would drop his own activities immediately, no matter what plans he had.
Beitel had about five tattoos on various parts of his body, including one that signified his time in the Marine Corps, she said.
But the one she remembered most, she said, was a pair of wings he'd had tattooed on his back and shoulders.
"Ironically, he pretty much is an angel now," she said.
Review-Journal writer Brian Haynes contributed to this report. Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283.