Girl shot to death at party identified as Desert Pines student

Betty "Jay" Pinkney wasn't the team's star runner, recalled Desert Pines High School girls varsity track coach Becky Riddle.

But the slain teenager's personality shone brightly and is what Riddle will remember most.

Pinkney was fatally shot at a house party in the northeast valley early Sunday morning.

Riddle, reached by phone Monday afternoon, described Pinkney as instrumental in building team camaraderie when she competed for her school in spring 2010.

"She was one of those kids you just wanted to be around," said Riddle, who learned of Pinkney's death in a 7 a.m. phone call Sunday that she suspected was going to be bad news.

"She always had a smile for everybody and would listen to anybody who wanted to talk," added Riddle, who also teaches physical education at the high school.

Friends and family identified Pinkney as a 17-year-old Desert Pines senior.

Las Vegas police said an argument between at least two men was followed by gunshots inside a house about 12:45 a.m. in the 4200 block of Tattersall Place, near Craig Road and Lamb Boulevard.

Pinkney was shot and killed. A second gunshot victim, a woman in her 30s who was not identified, was in critical condition.

The victims did not appear to be involved in the argument and weren't the intended targets, police said.

A woman at the home declined to comment Monday.

Neighbor Donald Brown, 52, said his wife was awakened by seven or eight shots from an assault rifle, although he didn't hear anything.

"Thought it was just kids having a party," he said. "Guess it was more than that."

Homicide Lt. Ray Steiber offered few updates Monday. He said detectives were investigating leads, but no suspects had been arrested as of Monday afternoon.

Riddle said today's return to class for Desert Pines students was going to be a "disaster" because so many students and school staff would be mourning Pinkney. Schools were closed Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Riddle broke down in tears a few times as she spoke about the slain student.

Pinkney's loss was also being felt by others.

On a Facebook memorial page, a friend wrote, "Everyone loved Betty. She was loving, caring, and helpful We love you Betty."

"I didnt even get to say bye.... My last words to BETTY was 'when are you leaving this party,' " one friend wrote on Facebook.

Other friends wrote that Pinkney wasn't involved in the argument.

"A coo person that never started beef ending up leaving us too early," one friend wrote on Twitter.

Pinkney also played basketball at Desert Pines, where a brief memorial was held Sunday afternoon.

Simone, a friend of Pinkney's who didn't want to use her last name, said she didn't attend the widely advertised party but knew about it through Facebook.

She has heard five different stories about what happened that night.

"She didn't deserve to go out like that," Simone said. "I really hope whoever did this gets caught. It's some real messed up stuff."

Simone said Pinkney was a good student who was grounded.

"She had a good head on her shoulders," she said.

"I just really miss her. It's going to be hard."

Anyone with information on the shooting can call the Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Section at 828-3521 or leave anonymous tips with Crime Stoppers at 385-5555 or

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at or 702-383-0283. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at or 702-383-4638