Igor Soldo planned to come home to Lincoln in a few weeks to celebrate his son’s first birthday with his parents, siblings and friends.
Instead, his parents flew to Las Vegas with his widow and infant son Monday afternoon to mourn the 31-year-old police officer's death.
“He was a wonderful child, a wonderful husband, a wonderful father,” said his mother, Sirli Soldo.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Southeast High School, Igor Soldo was eating lunch at a CiCi's Pizza with fellow Officer Alyn Beck, 41, when Jerad and Amanda Miller shot and killed them on Sunday, authorities said.
The Millers laid a yellow Gadsden flag, which features a snake with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” and a swastika, on top of Beck’s body and pinned a letter to Soldo’s saying the shooting was the start of a revolution.
Five minutes later, they gunned down 31-year-old Joseph Wilcox of Las Vegas in a nearby Wal-Mart, then killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact, authorities said.
Beck had been with the Las Vegas department since 2001 and left behind a wife and three children. Soldo had been with the force since 2006, police said.
He graduated from Lincoln Southeast in 2000 and earned a degree in criminal justice from UNL in 2004.
His 33-year-old brother, Robert, is a police officer in Beatrice, their mother said Monday. They have a sister, Vedrana Cooper, 25, she said.
Igor Soldo worked part time as a correctional officer at the jail in Lincoln from August 2003 until 2006, when he got full-time work with the Las Vegas Police Department, said Lancaster County Corrections Director Mike Thurber.
He met his wife, Andrea, at the jail, where she also was a correctional officer, said his father, Pero Soldo.
They got married Aug. 13, 2009, and planned to celebrate their son Logan's first birthday in Lincoln on July 7.
Igor Soldo visited Nebraska once or twice a year, and his parents went to Las Vegas a couple of times a year, his father said, including a trip in March to meet their grandson.
The Soldo family moved to Lincoln from war-torn Bosnia in 1995 when Igor was 13, his mother said.
Kathy Kapustka remembers when the Eastern European family of five moved in next door, including the “brilliant, brilliant boy” who loved to play basketball and adopted his parents’ strong moral compass, inclusiveness of others and strong work ethic.
“First thing he did was come over and ask, ‘Can I help you?’” she said of Igor.
Kapustka said she grew close to the Soldos over the years as she watched their three kids grow up — and as they spent time around tables sharing stories, drinks and strong coffee. She also absorbed a little of their Eastern European sensibility, which is different from what she’s come across in America.
“A sense of ‘life is hard,’ but you’re guided by what’s right and care for your family,” she said. “They had to learn to be so resourceful to survive that war and get out safe.”
Then she paused.
“Survived a war and then to get killed here — their family came here to be safe.”
Igor Soldo always wanted to get involved in criminal justice, said Pero Soldo, who was a fire chief in Bosnia. One of the children's uncles was a cop, and their kids grew up around people in uniform and loved it.
When he was a kid, Igor Soldo read books about the FBI and how-to's on criminal interrogations, Pero Soldo said. Sometimes, his mother added, he'd read a book a night.
“He would read books like he was eating books,” she said.
He planned to retire at 40 and move to California, because he and his wife both loved the ocean, Sirli Soldo said.
Her son was happy with the life he created for himself, she added.
“He loved his job. He loved Las Vegas. They bought a house. They had everything.”