Las Vegas Filipino-American community says Marilou Danley never reached out to them.
Almost a week after her boyfriend targeted thousands of concertgoers on the Strip, Marilou Danley remains a mystery in the city’s tight-knit Filipino community.
Community leaders said Friday the Mesquite woman was unknown to local Filipinos before her name went viral early Monday, when law enforcement named her a person of interest in the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.
Even after it was revealed that she had been in the Philippines on Sunday night when Stephen Paddock gunned down 58 people and injured nearly 500 at the festival adjacent to Mandalay Bay, her name continued to dominate social media and news headlines.
But instead of distancing the community from the 62-year-old Filipina, local leaders are extending a helping hand to Danley, an Australian citizen by marriage.
“We don’t personally know her,” said Amie Belmonte, the president of the local chapter of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. “But right now, we don’t know all the details, so we’re not here to judge her. Whatever help she may need, we’re here for her.”
‘We are all family’
The Filipino culture, Belmonte explained, is known for its hospitality and dedication to family values.
“Everyone we get a chance to know becomes family to us,” she said. “We take care of each other, and those values are also extended into the greater community.”
Bernie Benito, another active member in the local community and chairman of the Fil-Am Alliance of Nevada, echoed Belmonte’s sentiments.
“Of course anytime a Filipino is involved, whether good or bad, it’s a big deal for us,” he explained. “This hurts our pride a little bit, but we are all family.”
Danley, who returned to the United States and was questioned Wednesday by FBI agents in Los Angeles, lived with Paddock about an hour north of Las Vegas. Belmonte and Benito both said any active member of the Filipino-American community living on the outskirts of the valley would have ties to local Las Vegas organizations.
“It’s unusual for Filipinos to live in Mesquite because there’s no real sense of Filipino community out there,” Belmonte said. “So anyone living there would most likely have to reach out to us to get involved.”
Nadia Arroyo, editor of the Philippine Times of Southern Nevada, said that if Danley had been involved in any local Filipino-American group, everyone in the community would know about it by now.
“We see each other all the time,” she said. “There’s no way we wouldn’t know her if she was an active member.”
On Wednesday, in her first public statement, Danley said she was worried Paddock had sent her to the Philippines as a way of breaking up with her.
“A little more than two weeks ago, Stephen told me he’d found a cheap ticket for me to the Philippines, and he wanted me to take a trip home to see my family,” she said in the statement. “Like all Filipinos abroad, I was excited to go home and see family and friends.”
Australian police are assisting on the investigation into the shooter’s girlfriend.