Was a colorful & beloved Las Vegas icon marked for death?
“Buffalo Jim” Barrier was voted “Las Vegas’ Most Colorful Character” in 2005. At 6 ft. 2 inches tall and wearing his black velvet top hat along with his bullet-covered chest plate, Buffalo Jim was recognized wherever he went.
In addition to owning a well-known auto repair shop not far from the Vegas Strip, Buffalo Jim’s side gig was being a WWE wrestling promoter with his own wrestling school and TV wrestling show. Buffalo Jim loved being around wrestling titans Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Hulk Hogan, and “The Undertaker” and was a friend to everyone he met. However, what he treasured most in life were his four daughters.
Buffalo Jim worked hard to provide his daughters with a good life, but faced an ongoing feud with the Crazy Horse Too, a strip club located next door to his auto shop. And over the years, the issues at the club became intolerable and dangerous.
Due to beatings and shakedowns taking place in a parking lot he shared with the Crazy Horse Too, Buffalo Jim didn’t much care for the club or its owner, Rick Rizzolo. Buffalo Jim hated corruption and did his best to fight against it, showing up at City Council meetings with photos and accounts of drug dealing and violent behavior outside the club.
Because he refused to relocate his auto shop so the strip club could expand into his space, Buffalo Jim faced continued harassment — his auto shop was broken into and vandalized, and his client’s cars were smashed, scratched, and illegally towed away.
After a successful FBI sting on the strip club for racketeering — a sting that Buffalo secretly aided as an unofficial informant — he started receiving anonymous threats and warnings that killers would make his death appear to be related to drugs and women. It was clear that Buffalo Jim had created some powerful enemies bent on bringing him and his business down.
In April of 2008, Buffalo Jim was found dead in a Las Vegas motel, just one week after Rick Rizzolo — the strip club owner and the man he helped put behind bars — was released from prison. Was Buffalo Jim’s death a cocaine-induced heart attack? Or was it a carefully planned hit?
Las Vegas Metro Police and the Coroner ruled that Buffalo Jim’s death was a drug-induced heart attack and stand by this ruling today. But his four daughters are convinced Buffalo Jim was murdered and have been on the killer’s trail ever since.