(LAS VEGAS) — The man and woman suspected in Sunday’s Las Vegas shopping center attack that left two police officers and a shopper dead often talked about killing officers and didn’t believe in the government, a neighbor says.
“They always talked about murdering cops,” neighbor Krista Koch told ABC affiliate KTNV-TV.
Investigators searched an apartment overnight believed to be related to the shooting, trying to uncover clues about the midday attack. Police are looking into the couple’s links to the white supremacy movement after finding swastika symbols during their initial investigation, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The first shots were fired at 11:22 a.m. Sunday — the start of a “revolution,” the pair reportedly told witnesses. Investigators say the man and woman, armed with guns and ammunition, walked into a CiCi’s Pizza Restaurant, where they opened fire on officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31.
Police say one officer fired back, but both died from their injuries.
Sheree Burns, who witnessed the shooting, says the officers didn’t stand a chance.
“I didn’t know what to think,” she said. “I realized the gun going off, then I hit the floor.”
The pair then fled across the street to a Walmart, where the male suspect reportedly yelled, “Everyone get out.” Shots rang out inside the store at 11:27 a.m. By then police were already on the scene. A third victim was found dead inside the store’s front door.
Police say the man and woman then went to the back of the store, where they killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact. The female suspect reportedly shot the male suspect, then took her own life.
“It’s a tragic day, it’s a very, very difficult day,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a news conference. “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 emptiness in our hearts.”
The police officers who died were both married with children. Beck had been with the department since 2001 and leaves behind a wife and three children. Soldo had been with the force since 2006 and is survived by a wife and baby, police said.
Soldo was described as a good father and a “great guy” by his sister-in-law, Colleen Soldo of Beatrice, Nebraska. She said he attended high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and previously worked as a corrections officer.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement he was devastated by the slaying of the two officers and an innocent bystander in an “act of senseless violence.”
In a statement, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called the killings a “cruel act” and praised the officers for dedicating “their lives to protecting all of us in our community.”
Walmart employees and shoppers were taken to a nearby women’s clothing store to be interviewed by police. The restaurant and Walmart remained closed as detectives processed evidence. Authorities said the investigation is “very complex” because it involves more than 1,000 witnesses.
Sunday’s killings come less than a year after the Las Vegas police department’s most recent on-duty death. Officer David VanBuskirk died while rescuing a stranded hiker by helicopter on July 22, 2013.
The names of the suspects and the third victim have not been released.
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