Every May 13 since 1988, a candlelight vigil has been held in honor of the law enforcement community to commemorate National Police Week. At this ceremony, thousands of uniformed officers from across the country and from places such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Israel, along with family survivors and friends, pay special tribute to officers who have given their lives in the performance of their duties.
This marks the 27th year of the candlelight vigil, and it was estimated that 20,000 people gathered to help dedicate the addition of 273 fallen law enforcement officers’ names to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. — 117 who died in 2014 and 156 who were prior-year fatalities.
You’re probably asking yourself: Why are so many prior-year officers’ names just now being placed on the memorial wall?
As you can imagine, in the early years of our nation, there was not a central repository of names, dates and circumstances of law enforcement officers’ deaths. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has the mission to generate increased public support for the law enforcement profession by permanently recording and appropriately commemorating the service of law enforcement officers. One way this is accomplished is through the NLEOMF Historical Research Section. These “detectives” gather information by various means and do extensive research to determine if officers were killed in the performance of their duties. This research, especially in old cases, can sometimes take months or years to determine if the officer’s name qualifies to be placed on the memorial wall. But in the end, these lost heroes are given the recognition they deserve through the addition of their names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
This year, Nevada added the names of two active officers and six prior-year officers to the memorial wall. Since the first recorded Nevada Territory law enforcement officer’s death in 1861 (Nevada gained statehood in 1864), Nevada has had 112 officers’ names etched on the memorial wall.
Here are this year’s names and the circumstances of their deaths:
Alyn R. Beck, police officer, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department,
Las Vegas, Nevada
Igor Soldo, police officer, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department,
Las Vegas, Nevada
Circumstances: Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were shot and killed in an ambush while eating lunch at a pizza restaurant in the 300 block of North Nellis Boulevard. Two subjects, a male and a female, approached them at their table and shot them execution-style without warning. The subjects then stole both officers’ weapons and ammunition and ran to a nearby Walmart, where they shot and killed a civilian. Responding officers followed the two into the Walmart and exchanged gunfire with them. The male subject was killed by rifle fire from a responding officer and the female then committed suicide.
Edward E. Hogle, deputy, Nevada State Police
Circumstances: Edward Hogle was shot and killed as he rode with a posse that was tracking a group of Indians suspected of murdering four ranchers in Washoe County. The posse located the Indians about 40 miles east of Winnemucca. A prolonged shootout ensued, in which Policeman Hogle and eight of the Indians were killed. Four other Indians were taken into custody. It is believed that three of the suspects died of disease and one died later of other causes. Edward Hogle and the posse were deputized earlier in the day by the superintendent of the Nevada State Police.
Friend I. Stone, night watchman, Carlin, Nevada
Circumstances: Night Watchman Friend Stone succumbed to injuries sustained the previous night when his service revolver accidentally discharged. Watchman Stone and the city’s deputy constable were in the local railroad yards observing three suspicious hobos. In an effort to sneak up on the men, Watchman Stone was crawling beneath a railroad car. As he did so, his service revolver dropped from its holster and discharged, with the round striking him in the chest.
Humphrey Symons, police officer, Gold Hill, Nevada
Circumstances: Officer Humphrey Symons was shot and killed while investigating a domestic disturbance. He was walking past a house when he heard a commotion inside. When he entered the house, the male subject immediately shot him in the head. After Officer Symons fell, the suspect shot him in the head several more times. The suspect attempted to shoot the town marshal as well when the marshal arrived, but was shot in the arm and taken into custody.
William J. Kelly, policeman, Austin, Nevada
Circumstances: Policeman William Kelly was stabbed to death after being ambushed and attacked by a woman whom he had given a warning to earlier in the day. The subject and another woman had been involved in a fight that Policeman Kelly broke up. The woman who stabbed him was charged with murder.
Dennis McMahon, policeman, Austin, Nevada
Thomas Reed, policeman, Austin, Nevada
Circumstances: Policeman Thomas Reed and Policeman Dennis McMahon were shot and killed while attempting to arrest an outlaw. The suspect shot both officers in the chest and then fled. The suspect was arrested a short time later and was subsequently acquitted at trial. The man was later shot and killed when he attempted to shoot another man in a saloon.
The memorial wall now contains the names of more than 20,500 fallen law enforcement officers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, along with federal, corrections, railroad and military police agencies, dating back to the first recorded officer’s death in 1791.