LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The call to run is a little louder, cuts a little deeper for Michelle Tavarez. The police captain’s reasons were more personal Wednesday when she joined a tight-knit group heading up Fort Apache Road in the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Relay run.
Tavarez ran in memory of Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, the two Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers who were shot to death as they ate lunch on June 8, 2014, at Cici’s Pizza in the east valley. Soldo and Tavarez were in the same platoon in the academy, and Beck was her training officer.
Tavarez is in charge of the Spring Valley Area Command, responsible for 191 sworn and civilian employees. She’s busy, but she makes time whenever possible to remember her friends.
Beck’s widow, Nicole, ran with Tavarez on leg #5 of the relay. And there were other connections in the group. Lt. David Walker was Soldo’s best friend.
For police, it’s a “brother-sister” bond that’s ingrained, evident to the public anytime an officer is shot or involved in a crash. To those in uniform, the bond is there all the time.
Tavarez said police are trained from the start to understand the dangers of the job. “We know it’s our responsibility to put our lives on the line,” she said.
That training, delivered by Beck when Tavarez was just breaking into the Metro family, echoes in her head when she faces new recruits.
Keeping memory alive
When the call came out — now nearly nine years ago — officers were responding to an active shooter situation. Jared and Amanda Miller had crossed Nellis Boulevard to a Walmart store after killing Soldo and Beck. Including the two officers, five people died that day. The Millers also killed a civilian at the store. Jared Miller died in a shootout with police, and Amanda Miller committed suicide.
For Tavarez, pregnant with her second child at the time, learning of the deaths of her colleagues was an emotional blow. Sent to the scene as a crisis negotiator, she remembers when another negotiator said the names … Beck and Soldo.
“My heart just sank,” she said. “When it hits, it hits. And it doesn’t change how you feel.”
Now, she runs the annual relay “to keep my friends’ memory alive.” And that effort extends beyond this event as Tavarez participates in the Police Unity Tour, a national 300-mile bike ride that happens next month. In 2015, she was part of the tour when Soldo and Beck were added to the wall.
And emotions are still there. “I think I tear up every time I roll into the monument,” she said.
The extra mile(s)
Tavarez was looking to get a little extra work in Wednesday, agreeing to run back-to-back legs to get the relay on its path — 487 miles to Carson City, where the names of eight officers will be added to the Law Enforcement Officer Memorial near the Capitol.
She does triathlons, so a run like this isn’t a big challenge. In fact, she did 3 1/2 miles early Wednesday just to warm up.
But as the group went up the shoulder along U.S. 95 when the relay left Las Vegas, it seemed to go on a little farther than expected. And then a little farther. The group went 5.4 miles before it was time for Tavarez to continue on the next 2-mile segment. She would have run it alone, but officer Donte Batiste — in full uniform, boots and all — joined her.
In all, Tavarez ran almost 11 miles — nearly a half-marathon to start her day. A mile past the Snow Mountain exit, she was done, ready for a day at the office.