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October 30, 2014

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Slain officer called ‘a damn good cop, a great dad’

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David Becker / Pool Photo

Andrea Soldo, center, is consoled by family members after receiving a flag during funeral services for her husband and Las Vegas Police Officer Igor Soldo at Palm Northwest Mortuary & Cemetery on Thursday, June 12, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Updated Thursday, June 12, 2014 | 3:38 p.m.

Funeral Services for Metro Officer Igor Soldo

Metro Motorcycle Officers are joined by those from other area departments as they lead the body of slain Metro Officer Igor Soldo to the Palm Mortuary for funeral services on Thursday, June 12, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Officer Igor Soldo Funeral

Police honor guard members carry the casket of Las Vegas police officer Igor Soldo for his funeral at Palm Northwest Mortuary & Cemetery on Thursday, June 12, 2014 in Las Vegas. Soldo, 31, and fellow officer, Alyn Beck, 41, were gun down by two assailants at a Cici's Pizza during their lunch break Sunday. Services for Beck are scheduled for Saturday. Launch slideshow »

A Bosnian who immigrated with his family to the United States to escape his war-torn homeland only to be gunned down as a Metro Police officer was eulogized today as a wonderful father to his 11-month-old son and a father figure to his Metro Police colleagues.

During a late-morning funeral that lasted nearly two hours, a procession of officers and friends paid tribute to Igor Soldo, 31, whose body lay in a flag-draped coffin at the front of Canyon Ridge Christian Church. Soldo, along with Officer Alyn Beck, 42, died in an ambush Sunday at an eastern Las Vegas pizza restaurant.

The church, a double-tiered structure that sits just under 3,000 people, drew a standing-room-only crowd of officers, family members, friends and community members.

Metro said officers from across Nevada and the country were expected to attend Soldo’s funeral. One member of Royal Canadian Mounted Police was in attendance.

The main eulogist for Soldo, who is survived by his wife, Andrea, and an 11-month-old son, Logan, was former Metro Capt. Larry Burns, who talked about Sunday’s tragedy and the potential danger that police officers face daily on the streets.

A program for the service said Soldo “enthusiastically supported” Burns’ campaign to become the next Clark County sheriff. Burns made it through Tuesday’s primary and will face Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo in November’s general election.

"We suffer so silently at some of the senseless acts of violence that we see and witness," said Burns, who said he was certain Soldo would one day see his wife and son in the hereafter.

Burns spoke of the unity of police officers and of the people who live in Las Vegas, “a place that visitors often have no concept of, who it is that we are and how important we are to one another.

“Maybe that’s part of the message we need to take home today – we need to be a little kinder. We need to set in front of us a purpose for our being, the reason for the things that we do,” he said.

Robert Soldo talked about growing up with his brother in their native Bosnia.

"He was my partner in crime. … I looked up to him," Robert Soldo said, adding that he hoped he could be “half the man” his brother turned out to be.

Robert Soldo, who is now a police officer in Beatrice, Neb., added, "I wish I could take that bullet for him."

Other Metro officers – current and former – joked about Soldo, telling stories about their time with Soldo in the police academy, on the street, in Metro’s headquarters and off duty. Most of them spoke in terms of family – Soldo’s wife and son, along with Soldo’s Metro family.

Metro's David Walker, talking through tears, said, "Igor was family, and his family became mine."

Former Officer Jason Hopfer, who worked with Soldo, said Soldo would gather officers after a shift and get them to talk so they could decompress, not take the job home.

"He was that concerned father figure for each of his squad mates," Hopfer said.

Soldo loved his family at home, too.

"He was so proud of the family he had built,” Hopfer said. “Andrea was that spark that drove him to be a better man."

Metro's Josh Stearns said he met Soldo in 2006 in the police academy. The two were partners in Metro’s Northeast Area Command and worked the graveyard shift.

Stearns joked that Soldo had a memory like a steel trap, "but if you asked him where he put his car keys, he had no idea."

Officer Scott Vaughan also was in the police academy with Soldo, whom he said loved to tease – but only the people he liked.

“And boy did he like me," Vaughan joked.

Turning serious, Vaughan said of Soldo, "He was a good man … a damn good cop, a great dad and a great friend."

Said Hopfer, "This community has lost a true hero."

An honor procession that included a police vehicle carrying Soldo's casket made its way from the church to Palm Northwest Cemetery for the burial service.

Soldo’s wife, parents, brother and a few others sat beneath a white tent in front of the officer's coffin. A billboard-sized American flag hung nearby between two hydraulic cranes, flapping in the wind.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie walked to Soldo’s wife and parents, leaning over and giving his mother a hug.

Without a cloud in the sky, the temperature hovered above 100. Cold bottles of water were available, but a few people, including a couple of police officers clad in wool uniforms standing at attention, were overcome by the heat and fainted.

After a procession of Metro helicopters flew overhead in salute, Soldo’s squadmates individually saluted his casket. Bagpipers and drummers played a mournful “Amazing Grace,” fading as they marched from the cemetery.

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