Las Vegas shooting: Fatal attacks against police up 38 percent

The Las Vegas rampage that left five people dead, including two police officers, highlights an uptick in officer fatalities so far this year.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/AP
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officers Alyn Beck (l.) and Igor Soldo were shot and killed in a Las Vegas eatery Sunday.

The tragic deaths of two Las Vegas police officers gunned down in a pizzeria Sunday pushed the number of US officers killed in the line of duty so far this year to 62, an increase of 38 percent since the same period of 2013.

Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo were eating lunch at CiCi’s Pizza at a shopping center northeast of the Las Vegas Strip when they were shot at point-blank range. Two suspects, a man and a woman, then fled to a nearby Walmart where police say they gunned down one civilian and engaged in a firefight with law enforcement officers before the woman turned the gun on her accomplice and then herself.

One witness reported hearing the male assailant shout, “The revolution is about to start,” the Los Angeles Time reports.

Since the shootings, neighbors reported that the two assailants previously distributed white-power propaganda and discussed planning a Columbine-like massacre, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield told the Associated Press that the motive for the rampage is still under investigation.

These are the first fatal shootings of Las Vegas police officers in the line of duty since 2006, when Sgt. Henry Prendes was ambushed during a domestic violence call.

Nationally, the rate of officer fatalities has ebbed and flowed over the years, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks the number of officers killed in the line of duty. Until this year, the number of officers killed in the line of duty had declined for two years from 171 in 2011 to 122 in 2012 to 100 in 2013.

If 2014 continues at the current rate, there could be as many as 140 on-duty fatalities, a considerable increase over the previous year, but still below the average of 150 deaths seen during the past decade. Over the longer term, the number of police officers killed in action has fallen dramatically since the 1970s, when totals consistently soared into the 200s.

Both Officers Beck and Soldo were husbands and fathers. Beck is survived by a wife and three children and Soldo leaves behind a wife and baby.

“It’s a tragic day,” Nevada's Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a news conference Sunday, the AP reports. “But we still have a community to police and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high, but with an emptiness in our hearts.”

Associated Press material was used in this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.