Just after noon on Sunday, June 8th, 2014, Las Vegas became the dateline for media outlets around the world.
But this time, it wasn’t due to a publicity stunt or a Strip appearance by a Hollywood A-lister.
Two Metro Las Vegas police officers, 31-year-old Igor Soldo and 41-year-old Alyn Beck, had just been murdered.
On duty, Soldo and Beck were getting lunch at Cici’s Pizza on North Nellis Boulevard.
Cici’s is also where husband and wife, Jerad and Amanda Miller, stopped after walking several hours in the morning heat.
The two were looking for police, but not for assistance.
In their bags, they four handguns, a shotgun, food and water.
They each wore adult diapers under their clothes.
The two walked into Cici’s and without provocation or warning, shot and killed Soldo and Beck where they sat.
Then the two ran to a nearby Wal-Mart where Amanda Miller killed Joseph Wilcox who had a concealed weapon and was preparing to confront them both.
When police arrived, a fire fight started between the Millers and officers.
That’s about when Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill, now Metro’s undersheriff, heard about the shooting.
“I was having a relaxing Sunday morning at home with my wife and family,” McMahill recalled.
Because he was part of the top administration at Metro, he was told immediately about the shooting.
“I went and grabbed my police radio and turned on and quickly realized we had an unprecedented event occurring,” McMahill told KNPR’s State of Nevada. “I immediately threw my police uniform on and went directly to the scene of the Walmart where we were still engaged in a fire fight with the Millers.”
McMahill said the officers on the scene knew that two of their own had been mortally wounded and that Wilcox had also been shot, but it wasn’t shock or fear that McMahill saw in the faces of the officers.
“The first thing that I would tell you that I saw was determination,” he said. “I took a great level of comfort in knowing that our officers ran directly into that danger and went to confront and stop that evil that was occurring that particular day”
He said the officers who first responded did exactly what they had been trained to do in incidents of mass shootings: stop the killing.
“They did exactly what it was that we asked them to do and they did it without prompting from supervision,” McMahill added, “It was remarkable to actually see that our cops knew exactly what needed to get done and put aside their own safety and went and did it.”
Ultimately, Jerad Miller was shot and killed by a Metro Police officer and Amanda Miller killed herself. Following the shooting, McMahill said no one was exactly sure what motivated the ambush or whether it was part of a larger plot.
Metro Police ordered all officers to double up on shifts, meaning instead of riding alone two officers were partnered to work together. McMahill said it was a way to make sure officers were safe and give them another person to talk to.
In the days after the shooting, the motivation for the violence began to trickle out. The Millers had been at the Cliven Bundy ranch in April, during the standoff between Bureau of Land Management agents and Bundy and his supporters over grazing rights.
At some point, they had been asked to leave because many felt their opinions were too extreme, even for a camp filled with militia members.
After shooting officers Soldo and Beck, the Millers yelled “the revolution has started.” They also drapped a Gadsden flag on the bodies of the dead officers, which to some has an anti-government connotation.
However, for Jerad Miller, the shooting may have been a mixture of growing hatred of the federal government mixed with his feelings about police in general.
“He certainly had a very anti-police approach because of what he considered negative interaction with police in other states prior to coming to Nevada,” McMahall said.
McMahill believes Soldo and Beck were targeted simple because they were in uniform.
“I don’t believe Igor or Alyn were targeted specifically. There is no evidence to show that. I believe they were targeted because they were law enforcement officers,” he said.
Still later in the investigation, Metro Police released parts of video of the fire fight in Wal-Mart. The video shows the Millers’ last stand against police and cuts before Amanda Miller killed herself.
McMahill said many people with the department debated whether to release the video. In the end, then Sheriff Doug Gillespie and others felt it was important for everyone to understand what had happened that day.
“I think that went a very long way for our organization and the community as a whole to have an understanding of what had occurred,” McMahill explained.
McMahill said the department felt it was a way to reduce fear in the community.
It was that community that rallied around Metro in the days and weeks following the shooting. To McMahill, it is a real testament to how people really view the department.
“That gives you a very good indication exactly of what it is people in this community think about their police department and the importance of the police department to this community,” he said.
He also admired how Beck and Soldo’s widows and children have weathered the horrifying year they have been through.
“What I’ve seen from both the widows and the children from speaking with them is they are remarkable strong people and certainly had many of the attributes of their fathers and their husbands,” McMahill said.
The names of Officer Igor Soldo and Officer Alyn Beck were recently added to the memorial for officers killed in the line of duty in Carson City.
Kevin McMahill, Undersheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police
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