Massacre motive mystery to police
The Las Vegas gunman meticulously planned the worst mass shooting in modern US history, researching SWAT tactics, renting other hotel rooms overlooking outdoor concerts and investigating potential targets in at least four cities, authorities say.
But almost four months after Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 800 others with a barrage of bullets from the Mandalay Bay casinohotel, investigators still have not answered the key question: Why did he do it?
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo yesterday released a preliminary report on the October 1 attack and said he did not expect criminal charges to be filed against Paddock’s Filipina-Australian girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who had been called the only person of interest in the case.
Investigators believe Paddock acted alone, and he did not leave a suicide note or manifesto.
Paddock fired more than 1100 bullets, mostly from two windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay into a crowd of 22,000 people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival music below. About 200 shots were fired through his hotel room door into a hallway, where an unarmed hotel security guard was wounded in the leg.
Paddock, who killed himself before police reached him, told friends and relatives that he always felt ill, in pain and fatigued, authorities said.
His doctor thought he may have had bipolar disorder but told police that Paddock refused to discuss the possibility, the report said. The doctor offered him antidepressants, but Paddock accepted only a prescription for anxiety medication. He was fearful of medication and often refused to take it, the doctor told investigators.
Danley told authorities Paddock had become ‘‘distant’’ in the year before the shooting, and their relationship was no longer intimate.
When they stayed at the Mandalay Bay together in September 2017, Paddock acted strangely, she told investigators. She remembered him constantly looking out the windows overlooking the area where the concert would be held the next month. He moved from window to window to see the site from different angles, the report said.
The 64-year-old retired accountant was a high-stakes gambler and real estate investor. He had lost a ‘‘significant amount of wealth’’ since September 2015, which led to ‘‘bouts of depression’’, the sheriff has said. But Paddock had paid off his gambling debts before the shooting, according to the report.
Prior to the attack, Paddock’s online searches included research into SWAT tactics and consideration of other potential public targets, including in Chicago, Boston and Santa Monica, California, Lombardo said. His research also sought the number of attendees at other concerts in Las Vegas, and the size of the crowds at Santa Monica’s beach.
Four laptops and three cellphones were found inside his hotel suite. On one of the computers, investigators found hundreds of photos of child pornography.
The same computer was used to search for the height of the Mandalay Bay, how to remove hard drives from laptops, the location of gun shows in Nevada, and information about several other Las Vegas casinos.
Paddock’s brother, Daniel Paddock, was arrested in Los Angeles in October in an unrelated child pornography investigation. He has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities have said they found no link between the attack and international terrorism.
Authorities reported finding about 4000 unused bullets in Paddock’s two-room suite, including incendiary rounds that Lombardo said were not used. Investigators found 23 guns in the rooms, including 12 rifles fitted with ‘‘bump stock’’ devices that allowed rapid-fire shooting similar to fully automatic weapons.