Kacey Barlow loved desert racing, photography, the outdoors and his family, his cousin recalled.
“I had a baby six months ago, and she just adored him,” said Nikki Fisher, 29. “He just was always there for me. He was a protector.”
Barlow, 22, was killed Sunday night when an Independence Day fireworks celebration turned deadly.
Police investigators remained in the area until late Monday morning. Police have not released many details of the incident, which happened about 10:15 p.m. in the 6000 block of Pooh Corner Court, a cul-de-sac near Bonanza Road and Sloan Lane.
Fisher said her cousin lived in the 500 block of Madge Lane, just south of Pooh Corner. After a fireworks display near Barlow’s home, he went across the street to watch another display, she said.
Barlow and a few others “were going to set off a big blast,” said Fisher, who did not witness the accident. She had been told by witnesses that the group wasn’t using traditional fireworks, but a “metal pipe” device, she said.
She didn’t know who lit the explosives, but shrapnel from the blast pierced Barlow’s heart, she said. He was rushed to University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The family was in shock about his death, Fisher said, especially his parents, Louis and Pamela Barlow.
“You just go through all the moments, you know?” Fisher said as she tried to explain the loss of her cousin. “I just can’t put it into words. There will definitely be a big gap missing now. A really big gap.”
A teenager who lived on Barlow’s street, Jacob Kittinger, also was struck by shrapnel, Fisher said. She was told that the injuries were to Kittinger’s legs and that he was expected to be OK.
Fisher said her brother saw “a couple kids in handcuffs,” and she heard that a 16-year-old boy in the neighborhood may have constructed the device.
Homicide Lt. Lew Roberts said police were still investigating but believed the incident was accidental. It hasn’t been determined whether criminal charges will be filed against anyone in the case.
Pooh Corner resident Elbert Gray said he and his wife heard the “big boom” but did not know details.
Fireworks displays are common in the neighborhood each Fourth of July, he said, with many families participating.
He did not know if there was parental supervision at the time of the accident. He noted the blast he heard late Sunday was much louder than earlier explosions.
“I’m surprised this ended up happening,” Gray said. “They do this every year. We always hear it, but nothing ever like this.”
Another resident, who asked that his name not be used, said the cul-de-sac is normally full of kids from nearby streets.
It’s normally very quiet, he said, and a safe place for kids. In recent years, he said, fireworks have become louder and more dangerous.
“There’s so much stuff coming in, from Mexico and stuff,” he said.
Of the incidents police investigated Sunday, this appeared to be the only case with serious injuries, officials said.
The holiday festivities were uncharacteristically quiet for firefighters. Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman Tim Szymanski said that in the 15 years he has worked with the department, it was the “quietest Fourth I’ve worked.”
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.