LAS VEGAS – Around midnight on Sept. 16, Kamiah Bird finished her dealing shift at the Plaza, got on the highway and headed toward home.
At 12:08 a.m., Bird’s blue Nissan Versa veered across Interstate 15 near Flamingo Road and slammed into a Dodge Charger.
Medical personnel soon pronounced the 37-year-old roulette and blackjack dealer dead. Authorities first thought she died in the crash after a medical episode.
The coroner’s report told a different tale.
Cause of death: A gunshot wound to the neck. Manner of death: Murder.
‘A random person took my best friend’
The USA TODAY Network asked police for an interview to discuss the shooting. Because detectives are not allowed to speak about open homicide investigations, the department sent a press release.
Authorities don’t know what unfolded in the final hour of Bird’s life.
“What we’re trying to determine is what led to the shooting,” Lt. Ray Spencer told reporters after the incident. “It is potentially a road rage incident.”
Bird’s friends and family are now navigating countless questions: What happened? Who would do this? Why?
“Our family is deeply devastated,” the family statement said. “Kamiah was not only beautiful but fiercely independent. As details unfold we will share them.”
She had no enemies, according to friends. Her killing was random evil, they said.
“A random person took my best friend,” said Luxor craps dealer Anthony Locascio.
Two hours before she died, Bird texted Locascio. She wanted them to take a trip to California.
“That’s just who she was, she loves to travel,” Locascio said. “She was just in Virgin Islands. She just went to China. That’s the kind of free spirit she was. That’s why her nickname was ‘Free Bird.’”
A member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, Kamiah moved to Las Vegas three years ago to start a new life in Southern Nevada.
A co-worker introduced Locascio to Bird, who was looking for a roommate. They never lived together, but they recognized in each other kindred spirits.
“She’s a sister,” Locascio said. “I’m gay, so there was nothing sexual. We had slumber parties where she would just come over and watch movies. We’d spend four days together. That’s just the way we were.”
A couple weeks before she died, Bird took Locascio out to breakfast.
In the restaurant, she let a man and his young daughter skip ahead in line. Later, she secretly paid for their breakfast.
“He left $40 on his table for the waitress, and then the waitress gave $20 to someone else,” Locascio said. “It caused this ripple of amazing things. That’s who Kamiah was.”
‘Most friendly, bubbly, outgoing, positive, happy person’
Dorinda Lene is a longtime friend of Bird’s who is now the family’s spokesperson. She is still processing the death of her friend.
“She was the most friendly, bubbly, outgoing, positive, happy person that was the social butterfly everywhere she went,” Lene said. “I can’t fathom how somebody can be in that frame of mind to want to kill somebody without an altercation or something that happened.”
Anyone with any information about Bird’s murder incident can call Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Section at 702-828-3521 or email@example.com.
To remain anonymous, tipsters can contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or www.crimestoppersofnv.com.
An online fundraiser collected more than $8,000 to transport Bird to the Colville Reservation in Washington, where she will be buried.
Contributing: Associated Press.
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.