Danielle Nettleton has four plastic bins.
In three of them, she keeps mementos of her husband. Replicas of his badge. Jewelry. Law enforcement medals.
The fourth holds the thousands of sympathy cards she's received. From family. Friends. Sons of other fallen officers. Former Marines.
This is how her children will come to know their father.
It has been nearly three months since the 29-year-old widow lost her Las Vegas police officer husband, Trevor Nettleton, in a shootout with would-be robbers in the couple's garage. She wants the community and her well-wishers to know that she's OK and she's grateful for everyone's support.
"Everybody keeps asking me, 'Oh, are you still in shock?' I don't think I was in shock. This is what I want people to know: the fact that he died here in my house, that I saw it, I guess it gives me a sense of peace. I never wondered where he was, and if he was crying for help, laying there by himself.
"He was here."
She speaks in the no-nonsense manner of a former Army veteran, but she also has the ability to laugh and smile even as tears stream down her face.
But as tough as she tries to be, the last few months have been difficult. When her infant daughter, Quinn, was sick, she couldn't pick up the phone and call her husband. After a beautiful day with her family and friends, she couldn't tell him about it.
"It's hard knowing he's not coming back."
• • •
They met on a Virginia firing range in 2005, he a Marine instructor and she an Army combat photographer with a master's degree in media production from the University of Maine, Orono.
She was weeks away from deploying to Iraq and wasn't looking for a relationship. Her friends had other ideas.
"My buddies were all like, 'That guy is so cool. You should date him,'" she said. "And they were telling him, 'She's really cool.'"
Her friends gave Trevor her phone number. He called and called and kept calling until the day she left for Iraq. She never picked up.
In Iraq, Danielle photographed war, crime scenes and bodies. Back in the States, Trevor served in the Presidential Guard Detail at the White House.
When she returned several months later, she went to Arizona for training. On a dare, she texted Trevor: "Hey, what's up?"
Her phone rang within 30 seconds.
"I have a bone to pick with you," he said, noticeably upset.
"Oh, do you?" she replied.
"First, I'm glad you're back safe from Iraq," he told her. And then he let her have it for never calling him back.
"And then I came back from Arizona, and we were living together and getting married and having babies and moving to Vegas," Danielle said.
He became an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department. She went back to school to become a dental assistant. They were married at a drive-through wedding chapel in 2007, but because of their schedules, they couldn't go on a honeymoon. They had planned to go to Costa Rica in the spring.
Tanner, their son, was born in 2008. He has the same large head, hands and feet as his father. Quinn was born on Oct. 7, 2009, the same night that Las Vegas officer Milburn "Millie" Beitel was killed in an on-duty traffic accident.
Trevor and Millie were friends. After Trevor attended the funeral, he told his wife about the service. She would remember the details for his own funeral, which took place Nov. 25.
They lived a happy family life on Emerald Stone Avenue in North Las Vegas. Neighborhood children would come by to play with Trevor, who liked to tinker with things in his garage. He fixed a dirt bike for a neighborhood boy. He helped another boy across the street with his math homework.
After he died, two different boys came by with a bag of cookies their mothers had baked.
"We used to play video games with Trevor," they told Danielle.
Not enough people knew how funny he was, Danielle said. He was a constant practical joker. He taught Tanner to throw cold water on her while she was in the shower. For revenge, she would hide her husband's spittoon.
• • •
Trevor Nettleton arrived home from work on Nov. 18, tucked Tanner into bed and told his wife he was going to the garage. He kissed Quinn and Danielle, who was nursing their infant daughter in the La-Z-Boy chair in the living room. He handed her eyeglasses to her. They had been on the coffee table.
While in the garage, Trevor was on the phone with close friend and fellow officer Larry Rinetti. The two had met each other as Marines, and Rinetti was instrumental in luring Trevor to the Metropolitan Police Department. Rinetti was talking to him about a training scenario that had come up during a class that day, Danielle said.
At one point, Trevor realized he didn't have a gun with him in the garage. Rinetti encouraged him to get one for safety reasons. Trevor did and returned to the garage. Rinetti said he was tired, and the two ended the call.
Danielle doesn't know how many minutes passed between the time Trevor kissed her to the time she heard the gunshots.
Not long after midnight, she heard one or two shots, followed by a pause. Then six or seven more shots.
She expected her husband to come running inside to say he was going to help North Las Vegas police determine where the shots were coming from.
That didn't happen.
Instead, she heard the door to the garage open and close. She called out for her husband. He didn't answer.
Curious, she got up and walked to the hallway in time to see Trevor collapse to the floor.
He looked up at her, trying to speak. Blood came out of his mouth and nose.
Danielle called 911 and began shouting at the dispatcher: "Officer 9633 has been shot! Officer 9633 has been shot!"
While on the phone with the dispatcher, she kept trying to figure out what happened. She thought he might have accidentally shot himself.
"Did you do this to yourself?" she asked. He just stared.
Danielle went to wake up Trevor's mother, who was asleep in a guest bedroom. The dispatcher told Danielle to perform CPR. She lifted his shirt to find his chest covered in blood.
She asked him again, "Did you do this to yourself?" He stared. And then it hit her. "Someone did this to you, didn't they?" He closed his eyes in acknowledgement.
After he died, Danielle spent the night talking to detectives and tracking the incoming details of the shooting. A hospital reported treating a gunshot victim. It was 18-year-old Prentice Marshall, the man police allege was the triggerman, who was wounded in his testicles during the exchange of gunfire.
What happened that night made her think of another loved one.
One night in March 1998, Danielle's cousin was in an Ontario, Canada, bar with a friend. Danielle, then 17, and her cousin, Rae Lazenby, 21, were very close. A group of men at the bar were harassing the bartender. Rae told them to leave the bartender alone. They didn't, and management threw the men out.
At the end of the night, Rae and his friend walked out of the bar. The men were waiting outside. One grabbed and held Rae's friend. Another stabbed Rae to death.
"I just keep thinking, Why? Why me?" Danielle said.
• • •
Since her 30-year-old husband died, Danielle has received endless support. Police and volunteers have handled the surprising amount of paperwork generated by her husband's death. Her family and friends have come to town to help her.
Wherever she goes, people seem shocked by how young she is to have suffered such a loss, she says. When she reassures them that she's OK, she can see the relief on their faces.
She doesn't want to, but she plans to testify during the trials of the six suspects charged in connection with her husband's slaying, one of whom is a juvenile. All have pleaded not guilty.
There's nothing she cares to say to the suspects.
"It was a bad time for him to be outside, that's all," she said of the night her husband was killed. "They drove by, saw the garage door open. They didn't know who they were messing with."
As soon as she was allowed to, she moved back into her house. She has no plans to leave, even though several of the suspects lived in the same neighborhood. She's not going to show anybody that she's scared.
"I'm not afraid to be here," she said. "So here's fine. We all fit. We're all happy and healthy, and it's not scary."
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.