Indictment in Las Vegas mass shooting is possible, authorities say
Stephen Paddock was the only gunman spraying bullets on an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas last fall, but on Tuesday police said criminal charges could still be filed in the mass shooting that left 58 people dead.
The revelation came in district court as Nick Crosby, a lawyer representing the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, argued to keep search warrants, affidavits and findings sealed as charges were being investigated. Police have said Paddock was the lone gunman in the Oct. 1 massacre.
Crosby said that because the investigation was ongoing, he couldn’t reveal who those charges might be aimed at or what they might entail.
He said the charges could emerge within the next 60 days.
Lawyers for media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, sought to have search warrants, affidavits and findings unsealed after Paddock killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival from his 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay hotel. After the rampage, Paddock shot and killed himself in the room.
Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, has not been charged but has been called a “person of interest” by authorities. She was out of the country when the massacre occurred, but returned to the United States days later from the Philippines and cooperated with authorities. Through her attorney shortly after the shooting, she issued a statement saying Paddock had never told her anything about his plans to commit the crime.
Calls and emails to her attorney, Matthew Lombard, were not returned.
District Court Judge Elissa Cadish chose to keep the warrants, affidavits and findings under seal pending arguments made by police that would show why opening them to the public would hamper the investigation.
Cadish agreed to consider Crosby’s request to allow a private meeting to show why revealing details in the sealed documents could interfere with the investigation, but did not say who could be charged and what they could be charged with. Lawyers for the police were told they had a week to explain why they should be kept sealed.
Lawyers for the media — along with attorneys representing victims engaged in a civil lawsuit — claimed the department should have made that request sooner.
Marwan Porter, a Texas-based attorney representing victims, said the lack of information being provided has been hard on his clients.
“It’s very important after situations like this — these types of tragedies — it’s very difficult for the victims to have any type of closure without knowing what happened. Why it happened? What could be done in the future to prevent this type of tragedy from happening?” Porter said. “Our clients are extremely frustrated. They need answers.”
MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay, issued an email statement after the hearing saying the company had no stance on whether the warrants should be unsealed. The company also said it was “not aware of any employees under investigation.”
Officials with the FBI did not return requests for comment.
The hearing to unseal the search warrants in state court came days after a federal judge unsealed 315 pages of search warrants and affidavits that revealed Paddock had amassed an arsenal of weapons and explosives in his room and vehicle and that also sought to trace the planning of the attack through email and social media accounts.
The warrants and affidavits revealed an exchange about a money wire transfer, Danley’s deletion of her Facebook account hours after the shooting, and finding her casino player’s card in the room where Paddock sprayed bullets down into the crowd of more than 20,000 at the concert on the Las Vegas Strip.
It also showed she told authorities that her fingerprints would probably be found on the ammunition used during the attack. Danley explained to investigators that she occasionally participated in the loading of magazines.
Little is known about the relationship between Danley and Paddock. They lived together in Mesquite, Nev., and were largely not known among neighbors. Workers at a Starbucks in a Mesquite casino recalled that he berated Danley in public for using his casino card to make purchases.
Esperanza Mendoza, a supervisor at the Starbucks, told The Times in October: “He would glare down at her and say — with a mean attitude — ‘You don’t need my casino card for this. I’m paying for your drink, just like I’m paying for you.’ Then she would softly say, ‘OK,’ and step back behind him. He was so rude to her in front of us.”
Paddock was known around several casinos as a high-stakes gambler, with a preference for video poker. Though a motive remains elusive for the shooting, KLAS-TV reported in November that the 64-year-old had bouts with depression and had lost a significant amount of money since 2015.
5:45 p.m.: The article was updated with additional background and comments from Marwan Porter.
The article was originally published at 12 p.m.
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