Las Vegas gunman was a laid-back ‘goofball,’ longtime business associate says. ‘He made you laugh’
Stephen Paddock, the former IRS agent and professional gambler whose shooting rampage in Las Vegas left 58 victims dead, was a laid-back “goofball” who didn’t have a “serious bone in his body,” a longtime employee of the gunman said Friday.
“He was the most stable, even-keeled personality,” said Lisa Crawford, who worked as a property manager in Texas for Paddock from 2006 to 2012. “He never even got frustrated.”
Crawford said she knew Paddock “better than a wife would,” and had an “emotional breakdown” after Paddock was identified as the gunman in the attack on the Route 91 Harvest festival outside the Mandalay Bay hotel that also injured nearly 500 people.
“I just pray that they can solve the problem — that he had an alternate personality, or had a brain tumor,” Crawford said.
Investigators revealed Friday that they also remain confused by the assault, which came after Paddock apparently spent the late summer gambling in Las Vegas and scouting outdoor concerts in Chicago and Boston, possibly as alternate targets.
“We do not still have a clear motive or reason why,” Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a news conference. “We have looked at everything, literally, to the suspect’s personal life, any political affiliation, his social behaviors, economic situation and any potential radicalization that so many have claimed.”
But officials seem sure about one thing: “We’re very confident that there was not another shooter in that room,” said McMahill, and while investigators continue to gather all the clues they can, “We have not located any other person that we believe to be a suspect at this point.”
The congresswoman who represents the Las Vegas Strip and has been briefed on the investigation said authorities are combing through all the video footage from inside Mandalay Bay as they try to discern a motive.
“I’m not sure we’ll ever know it, but they’re going through every shred of evidence they can find for some kind of explanation,” said U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.). She said learning Paddock’s motivation remains the most critical part of the investigation.
“So far, with the interview with the girlfriend, looking at his computer, looking at the cameras, going through all of his internet history, so far nothing gives us an idea of what his motive was,” Titus said.
He was cool to hang out with, he made you laugh.
— Lisa Crawford, Paddock’s longtime property manager
Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, and one of his brothers, Eric Paddock, have publicly said they knew Stephen Paddock as a caring man who showed no signs of planning an attack.
Paddock’s former property manager, Crawford, had similarly little explanation for Paddock’s turn to murder.
“It doesn’t make sense. He didn’t want attention. He just wanted to blend in with the crowd, with the concrete,” Crawford said Friday. “In my opinion, he would have stepped in front of any harm that would have been coming towards me. He would have interfered in a heartbeat.”
Before Paddock lived with his girlfriend, Danley, in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nev., he lived near his mother in Mesquite, Texas, a suburban working-class town outside Dallas.
Property records show he bought the home he lived at — in a placid neighborhood of red-brick, single-family homes — in 1998, and sold it in 2010. It’s unclear how long he actually lived there, but neighbors recalled seeing him regularly.
A source familiar with the transaction said Paddock bought an apartment complex in the city in 2004 for close to $8 million and sold it in 2012, with not much, if any, profit on the sale.
Crawford, 54, still lives in the Dallas area, and she managed the Central Park Apartment complex in a somewhat newly developed part of Mesquite. She bonded quickly with Paddock when he bought the property — not romantically, but as friends.
“From the night he came to the door when he bought the property, to the very end, our personalities just clicked,” said Crawford. “He was above the normal in a good way, in a beautiful way, for lack of a better term. You wanted to be around him because he was cool, he was cool to hang out with, he made you laugh.”
Paddock had a mind like a world-class chess player, thinking ahead and anticipating tenants’ concerns and problems with his property. “He didn’t have to think about it, he was just smart,” Crawford said. “It was natural, like a gift.”
She said he was relaxed, not intense. “He’d sit back in the chair and just talk,” Crawford said. He’d watch comedies and romantic movies on Crawford’s Netflix account. “We didn’t talk politics, we didn’t talk religion,” Crawford said. “Did he believe in the Lord? I think he probably did.”
Paddock had guns, as far as she knew, though he didn’t show them to Crawford. “Maybe if he was bored, he’d maybe go to the gun shop and do something with his time till I was available so he could harass me,” said Crawford, chuckling.
For Texas, she said, that was not out of the ordinary.
Paddock always carried a pistol around in his fanny pack with his money, Crawford said. “He never told me it was there,” Crawford said. “I knew it was there, because we would talk about guns and everything, and I said, ‘Do you carry yours around all the time?’ He said, ‘That’s for me to know and you to find out.’”
The most distressed Crawford ever saw Paddock was when he got a kidney stone, but even then, Crawford couldn’t help but laugh with him at his condition. Crawford’s mother took Paddock to the emergency room.
When Paddock slipped and fell in a casino, Crawford likewise teased him about his hurt leg. “I had to carry [his] suitcase, ‘cause his leg was hurting,” Crawford said. “I’m like, ‘You big wuss, you big weenie,’ we just loved each other that way.”
Crawford stopped working for Paddock in 2012 and hadn’t seen him for years. The last time she talked to him was an email she sent during Hurricane Irma as it headed for Florida in early September, where some of Paddock’s family lived. “In the subject line, I wrote, ‘Dead or alive?’” The pair talked about the storms and about Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas.
When Hurricane Irma did not hit Florida as hard as expected, Paddock wrote Crawford a joking email “that said something like, ‘Newsflash, Irma took a different direction, 8.5 million people wanting their money back’” from storm-preparation purchases at Home Depot, Crawford said.
“What I would love for everyone to know about him, he was a good person when I knew him, and face to face, he was a good person,” said Crawford, choking up as she talked. She said she hadn’t slept since Monday, when she learned about the attack, leaving her bottled up with emotion.
Of Paddock’s motive, Crawford said: “I just think there’s more to it, personally. I just think there’s more out there that needs to be found.”
Elmahrek reported from Texas, and Pearce and Mehta reported from Los Angeles.
Matt Pearce is a national reporter for The Times. Follow him on Twitter at @mattdpearce.
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