Talk­ing points

The Ve­gas shooter: Why did he do it?

The Week (US) - - 16 News -

“A sui­cide note, a man­i­festo, a se­ries of so­cial me­dia screeds,” said Ann O’Neill and Bob Ortega in CNN .com—usu­ally, within a day or two of a mass shoot­ing, some ev­i­dence emerges to ex­plain what drove “a warped mind to com­mit such a vi­o­lent act.” Yet more than a week after Stephen Pad­dock, 64, com­mit­ted the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in Amer­i­can his­tory, killing 58 fes­ti­val­go­ers and in­jur­ing nearly 500 from the 32nd floor of the Man­dalay Bay Re­sort and Casino in Las Ve­gas, in­ves­ti­ga­tors have found no an­swer to the burn­ing ques­tion: “Why did he do it?” Pad­dock had no strong po­lit­i­cal be­liefs or his­tory of men­tal ill­ness, said Jen Kirby in A num­bers whiz, real es­tate in­vestor, and ded­i­cated gam­bler who would bet $30,000 a night play­ing video poker, Pad­dock was a loner who was none­the­less said to be con­sid­er­ate of his ten­ants, fam­ily, and live-in girl­friend, Mar­ilou Dan­ley. Some­thing, says his brother Eric, went “in­cred­i­bly wrong.”

Out­wardly, the gun­man’s life in Ne­vada was “ut­terly un­re­mark­able,” said Sab­rina Tav­ernise in The New York Times. Then “some­thing seemed to change last Oc­to­ber.” Pad­dock added 33 firearms to his ar­se­nal, and ap­par­ently started scout­ing out con­cert and sta­dium venues, in­clud­ing Fen­way Park. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are fo­cus­ing on the pos­si­bil­ity “that Pad­dock was suf­fer­ing from an acute men­tal ill­ness,” said Toby Harn­den in The Sun­day Times (U.K.). In the past year “Pad­dock seemed to have lost a lot of weight” and be­came in­creas­ingly averse to hu­man in­ter­ac­tion. He was pre­scribed the anti-anx­i­ety drug di­azepam, and Dan­ley said that in the mid­dle of the night he would moan and cry out, “Oh, my God.”

Pad­dock may have killed for the same rea­son he gam­bled—for thrills, said Seth Bar­ron in Ci­tyJour­ He of­ten spent all night in “an elec­tron­i­cally in­duced trance” at high-stakes video poker ma­chines, chas­ing the dopamine hit that comes with “sta­tis­ti­cally pre­dictable, pe­ri­odic wins.” Over time, the re­wards of this com­pul­sion can dim, as the brain’s neu­ro­chem­istry de­vel­ops a tol­er­ance. Pad­dock may have then turned his me­thod­i­cal mind to a big­ger, more thrilling game: mass mur­der. In­deed, po­lice found a list of num­bers in Pad­dock’s ho­tel room cal­cu­lat­ing the op­ti­mal tra­jec­tory and dis­tance of his gun­fire to cause max­i­mum fa­tal­i­ties. It may turn out that “Stephen Pad­dock killed all those peo­ple just for kicks.”

Pad­dock: Some­thing changed last Oc­to­ber.

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