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Hundreds gather to honor Metro officers slain in 2014

Hundreds of people joined officers from law enforcement agencies across Southern Nevada on Thursday night at Police Memorial Park to memorialize those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Las Vegas police added the names of officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo to the Southern Nevada Law Enforcement Memorial, a stone wall engraved with the names of the fallen. The sunset ceremony is an annual event that pays tribute to the local law enforcement officers, numbering 34, who have died since 1905.

A multi-agency honor guard opened the ceremony, with bagpipes and drums playing the traditional, somber tunes often heard at officers’ funerals.

The families of those killed in service to the community walked along a path next to the stone memorial and took a seat, each holding a white rose that would later be placed in a memorial bouquet.

For those who knew Beck and Soldo, the wounds were still fresh.

The officers were gunned down while eating lunch on June 8. Their killers then continued on a violent rampage and took the life of good Samaritan Joseph Wilcox before they died in a standoff with police.

Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill spoke to the crowd about the price of service, of tears and gratitude.

“You can take a life, but you can’t take a legacy,” he said.

Never before had the community seen such a senseless, evil act, he said.

But the ceremony at the park near Cheyenne Avenue and Hualapai Way was not just about the newest additions to the memorial. Cops, FBI agents and corrections officers who lost their lives also were honored.

Like search and rescue officer David Vanbuskirk, who died in a tragic accident after rescuing a stranded hiker on Mount Charleston in July 2013.

“Every time I’m out here, my heart breaks,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, adding that the community needs to make sure that none of the officers died in vain.

“We will not tolerate any more the anger and the hate that’s out there,” she said.

Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, a former cop himself, said it takes courage to do police work, to protect the innocent and face hardened criminals. To say goodbye to your family in the morning knowing that you may not come home at night.

“God knows they chased evil in this world, and they are being rewarded in heaven,” he said.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the families of officers who were killed, whether long ago or recently, that the brotherhood of the police community extends to them as well.

An American flag lowered to half-staff billowed as the Leavitt Middle School choir sang “America the Beautiful.”

The sky grew dark, and youths from Metro’s Explorer program released 34 white balloons with lights inside, representative of the light the officers brought to the community.

They rose high into the sky and looked like flying doves in the distance.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl

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