Sunday, June 15, 2014 | 5:40 p.m.
“Hi! Welcome to CiCi’s.”
The cheerful greeting rang out nonstop this afternoon at the pizza restaurant on the corner of Nellis Boulevard and Stewart Avenue, where, a week ago, two Metro Police officers were fatally shot.
Today, the restaurant doors reopened to a large crowd of community members — including Metro Police officers and their families — whose tribute to the fallen men was doing what the pair had intended last Sunday: eat lunch.
All of the day’s proceeds were being donated to the families of Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck and civilian Joseph Wilcox, who was gunned down by the killers at a nearby Wal-Mart.
“Thanks for coming, thanks for coming,” Mike Haskins, the franchise owner, repeated as customers streamed in and out.
Some familiar faces patted him on the back or shook his hand.
A fierce supporter of police and firefighters, Haskins said he always made it known to those men and women who served that they could stop by any time for a free meal. They came often, but most insisted on paying anyway, he said.
Soldo and Beck were among his law enforcement regulars.
“I would say to every police officer when they would leave, ‘Be safe,’” Haskins said.
After last week’s senseless shooting, Haskins pondered what his restaurant could do to help and, perhaps, foster healing. He settled on a fundraiser and asked grief counselors to quietly wander the restaurant and support anyone in distress.
Five of his employees were in the restaurant at the time of the shooting, he said. Earlier this week, the CiCi’s Pizza staff and their loved ones gathered at a bowling alley to console one another and talk with grief counselors.
“We made a commitment to each other that we would watch out for each other,” Haskins said.
The community support has been overwhelming, Haskins said. A growing memorial spilling onto the parking lot outside the restaurant is a testament to it.
Inside CiCi’s Pizza, there was another memorial created by Metro officers: a small rectangle across from the soda machine filled with a flower arrangement, two candles and a hand-drawn portrait. A permanent memorial will come later.
Metro Detective Damon Young said entering the restaurant, which days earlier had been an active crime scene, was full of emotion.
“It’s sad,” he said. “We cry for the (officers’) children; we empathize for the wives. Our only intention is to do good.”
Glen and Karen Shepherd understand the sentiment. That’s why the couple drove 80 miles from Pahrump to dine at CiCi’s and donate money.
On their way in, they hugged Young.
“I’m glad Vegas still has this much heart after all the crime going on,” Glen Shepherd said. “It makes you wish you had been there to help.”