Las Vegas gunman was a loner and gambler, but motive behind mass shooting remains unclear, police report says
The heavy gambler had $2.1 million in his bank account in 2015. By last September, that had dwindled to $530,000. It was one month before Stephen Paddock carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
But Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the steep financial losses alone can’t fully explain why Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino with guns in his suitcases and murder on his mind in the days leading up to Oct. 1.
He left no manifesto, no video message, and his reasons for killing 58 and wounding hundreds at a concert remain unknown.
Instead, a detailed 187-page report released Friday by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department revealed, through a series of witness interviews, that Paddock was a narcissist, a bit of a loner and a man becoming increasingly distant from the only person he appeared to be close to — girlfriend Marilou Danley.
The report also was definitive in identifying Paddock as the gunman who fired more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd while Jason Aldean was performing on the festival stage.
“Single shooter. No conspiracy,” Lombardo said.
The sheriff said Paddock was “an unremarkable” man who went from former postal worker, IRS employee and real estate investor to full-time gambler.
The FBI is expected to release this year a more complete behavioral profile of Paddock, but contained within the final report issued Friday are summaries of those who encountered the 64-year-old Paddock prior to the massacre. They provide more insight into Paddock — a balding, overweight man with bad teeth and who was also a germaphobe.
Danley was a key to the report and described Paddock to investigators as romantic at the beginning of their relationship. They moved into a condo in Reno in 2013.
Danley described to investigators how they then moved into a new, upscale home in Mesquite in 2015 and the two would travel on cruises to Asia, the Mediterranean, the Bahamas and Dubai. They booked rooms in Nevada casinos and attended shows and concerts and he always requested rooms with nice views.
Then, she said, he began to change.
Danley said he stopped hugging and kissing her. Sex was a problem. He was constantly tired. He complained that he got bad headaches from chemical smells. He had asked her to stop wearing lipstick and perfumes because he was allergic to them.
She also said Paddock was an atheist.
Danley, a Catholic, said he would say things like, “Your God doesn’t love me,” or “Your God doesn’t love us.” She would make the sign of the cross each time he said that.
Danley also told investigators she noticed his increased interest in guns beginning in 2016 after he purchased a gun safe. She described packages arriving at their house regularly and he purchased large amounts of ammunition. He explained the purchases by saying it was cheaper to buy in bulk. According to the report, Paddock made $95,000 in firearms purchases.The report doesn’t say specifically when that money was spent, but the bulk of his gun purchases occurred in the year leading up to the shooting.
One of the purchases drew the interest of law enforcement, however. Douglas Haig sold more than 700 rounds of armor-piercing bullets to Paddock in Arizona, and Haig is now facing criminal charges related to the sale but not the massacre. He has pleaded not guilty and has said he had no idea what Paddock was planning.
Investigators also interviewed Eric Paddock, one of Stephen Paddock’s brothers, and he theorized that his sibling had “done everything in the world he wanted to do and was bored with everything.”
According to the report, Eric Paddock told investigators that his brother “would have planned the attack to kill a large amount of people because he would want to be known as having the largest casualty count. Paddock always wanted to be the best and known to everyone.”
The report indicated Paddock had looked at other venues as targets as well, including Lollapalooza in Chicago and the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. He had gone as far as to make lodging reservations at both locations prior to those events.
Paddock was described by several who knew him as apolitical, and Lombardo said there was no evidence that he had been radicalized.
Authorities also interviewed Bruce Paddock, another brother, who had child pornography charges filed — and subsequently dropped — against him in Los Angeles earlier this year. Stephen Paddock had hard drives in his room that contained child pornography.
Bruce Paddock told investigators that he believed his brother was mentally ill.
The report also includes summaries of interviews with hotel staff and Paddock’s family members. Most of the staff interviewed also showed the shooter to be rather ordinary — a customer who had a taste for sushi and a penchant for gambling large amounts of money while playing video poker. Alone. According the report, he had paid out $600,000 to casinos prior to the shooting.
Staff who helped transport multiple duffel bags up to his hotel room prior to the shooting said they didn’t seem unusually heavy, and he allegedly told one staffer that numerous bags were for incoming family members.
Police ultimately found about two dozen guns and about 5,000 rounds of ammunition in his adjoining suits. Paddock’s body was found about an hour after the shooting when police breached the door to the room. He died of suicide by a handgun.
Sgt. Jerry MacDonald, who was one of three Las Vegas police authorities to work on and compile the report over the past 10 months, said it had been incredibly frustrating to not be able to pinpoint a motive for the killings.
While interviewing victims and loved ones of those killed, he learned others felt the same way: they all wanted to know why Paddock did it. But MacDonald said they seemed to also grasp at other tangible things to try and explain why their loved one had died.
“They would ask things like; did we know what gun or what round killed their loved one,” MacDonald said. “In many cases, that was hard to determine, but it was like they were looking for anything to help explain it. I wish we could answer why.”
While the shooting in Las Vegas receded from national attention in the wake of other mass shootings at the high school in Parkland, Fla., and a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, it has remained omnipresent in the city.
The final report on the shooting to be issued by Las Vegas police came just a day after a gathering and moment of silence was held for victims at Las Vegas police headquarters. Throughout the city #VegasStrong signs appear on ambulances, fire trucks and civilian vehicles. The Vegas Golden Knights, which their NHL debut shortly after the shooting, retired No. 58 in an emotional ceremony as a memorial to the dead.
And each week, local news outlets report on round-after-round of body camera footage, 911 calls, police reports and witness interviews that Las Vegas Police have been releasing from the night of the shooting throughout the summer. Media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, had sued to have the materials released to the public.
Lombardo said it’s been hard on everyone — including those who worked on the final report.
“Investigators on this case have lived this event day-by-day for the past 10 months,” he said. “Finding answers for the victims has been our investigators sole goal to help bring closure for those affected and to move forward from this horrible event.”
Over the course of the past year at briefings, memorials and events throughout Clark County, Lombardo has been loath to ever utter his name.
After saying Paddock’s name at the briefing a few times, he said it was likely the last time he’d ever refer to him that way again. “It probably ends today,” he said.
“I don’t want to remember this individual. I will remember the act and the victims, but I will not remember the suspect.”
4:10 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional details from the report.
11:25 a.m.: This article was updated with a staff report.
This article was originally published at 10 a.m.
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