Inside the Bahnna Bird Farm on Nellis Boulevard, a handwritten sign is attached to the cage of a Congo African Grey parrot named Zulu: "I come from a bad home and I am in recovery."
Karen Carter, one of the store's owners, stops at the cage and coos. "How are you? Are you feeling better?"
A previous owner had abused Zulu. Besides keeping the bird on an unhealthy diet, he taught it some raunchy language as well. Zulu would say "Shut your damn mouth" and drop the F bomb when he was initially brought into the store, Carter said.
But now, amid the din of hundreds of other exotic birds happily shrieking or chirping or chattering "Hi" or "Hello" or singing "Happy Birthday," Zulu just stares silently at Carter.
"Zulu's getting better," she said. "We talk to her in a nice way so she doesn't hear that abusive language any more. It takes time to get better when you've been hurt and abused. It doesn't happen overnight. We have to understand that, about animals and people."
Few people know that better than Carter, 42, or her 66-year-old father, Hyke Riley, the owners of the Nellis Boulevard store in northeast Las Vegas that also sells batteries and golf carts. They were the most seriously wounded when two hooded men armed with handguns opened fire during an April 6, 2006, robbery.
Post-traumatic stress disorder still makes life a challenge for Carter, who has two children in college and one in high school.
Three others were also wounded in the shooting, including a 14-year-old autistic child.
No one has been arrested in the heist, which netted only a few credit cards. Police have theorized that the robbers knew that Riley, instead of using a cash register, kept a lot of cash on his person. Surveillance cameras in the store did not work.
The assailants sped away in a white Toyota Tercel with no license plates. A $5,000 reward offered by Crime Stoppers produced several leads but no arrests.
"Everybody shot was very lucky," said Las Vegas police Detective Jason Leavitt. "We're talking about point- blank range. We weren't sure Mr. Riley was going to make it."
Riley was looking for a checkbook in a side drawer of the front counter when the two men entered around 4:30 p.m.
"I didn't see them at first and when I stood up at the counter this one guy said, 'You old (expletive), and he pointed his .38 right between my eyes," Riley recalled Thursday. "I turned to get out of there and he shot me in the chest."
As Riley staggered to the back of the store, one of the gunmen followed, firing. Riley was hit again in the left hand as he scrambled to get away.
A forklift driver who drove up, Robert Schlichting, surprised the gunman, allowing Riley time to hide. A bullet grazed Schlicting's upper thigh.
Carter thought the sounds she heard were batteries falling onto the cement from a forklift and she went to help out. Her arrival on the scene prompted a hail of gunfire. Hit in the left shoulder, she scrambled to a nearby shed, where she dialed 911.
On the other side of the store, a couple from California huddled in the back with their two children. Discovered by a gunman, the father was ordered to turn over his wallet. As he did so, he was shot in the forearm, the bullet passing into the upper arm of his autistic son.
"The whole thing just took a few minutes and the paramedics were here in about seven minutes after I called," Carter said.
Riley lapsed in and out of consciousness as he was taken to University Medical Center. Carter was also taken to UMC. Both thought the other might be dead.
It took three months for Riley, who developed blood clots in his lungs, to get back to work.
Somehow the bullet that ripped through his insides and caused him to lose his spleen went back through the entrance hole.
Several bones were broken in Carter's arm and shoulder, leaving her permanently unable to raise her arm above her shoulder. She went back to work, though not full time, about a month after the shooting.
The other gunshot victims recovered more quickly from their relatively minor physical wounds. Schlicting retired recently.
The physical effects of the robbery are the easiest to deal with, Carter said. Detective Leavitt said the parents of the autistic child say fear has made life even more difficult for him.
For nearly a year, Carter said, she would be awakened nightly from her sleep as the stickup replayed in her mind. Repeatedly, she hears the bullets, feels the slug cracking her bones, and sees the gunman stalking her and her father.
Once, she said, she became hysterical during a conversation with her stepmother about the robbery.
Visits to a therapist have finally helped, she said, making the nightmares less frequent. Anti-depressants and medication for anxiety help her maintain a positive outlook on life.
"I still feel very uncomfortable when my dad and I are here alone after 4. That's when our employees leave," she said. "And I'm always worried about who is coming through the door."
She now wears cats eye jewelry around her neck and has a tattoo of an eye on her back. "I know it sounds strange but I want an eye kept on me," she said.
On a recent vacation to Hawaii she thought she heard gunshots in the airport and ran to her husband. It was baggage being moved.
The shootings have made her even more conscious about helping birds. Often she takes in abused birds like Zulu from shelters.
"We have to help innocent victims," she said.
Carter has noticed that her father, who now uses a cash register and has installed surveillance systems that include motion detectors, is quieter now.
"You can't help but wonder how many other people in this city and around the country end up hurt for life from situations like this," Carter said.
Carter said that if her stepmother and customers and friends had not volunteered to work at the store while she and her father were recuperating, the business would have gone under.
"It was unbelievable how people just volunteered to help us, not asking for money," she said.
One good thing came out of the robbery.
"My dad took his first vacation," she said. "I think he wants to enjoy life a little more."
To this day, she wonders how her father survived a gunshot from three feet away.
"He really is a tough old bird, no pun intended," she said.
Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim @reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2908.