Warrants in Las Vegas mass shooting reveal name of additional ‘person of interest’
Authorities were looking into an additional “person of interest” following the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others, according to search warrants unsealed by a Nevada judge Tuesday.
Though Stephen Paddock has been identified as the lone gunman in the Oct. 1 massacre, and authorities had been looking at his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, the court mistakenly failed to redact another name from the warrants: Douglas Haig.
That is the name of a Mesa, Ariz., ammunition dealer who runs a website called Specialized Military Ammunition, which touts itself as “your source for premium, MILSPEC, tracer and incendiary ammunition in popular military calibers,” including ammunition that “ignites diesel and kerosene.” (Officials have said that Paddock shot at aerial fuel tanks during the attack, although they did not ignite.)
“We Will Be Closed Indefinitely,” the website said Tuesday. “Check back to see if / when we are up and running again.”
While it was not certain that the ammunition dealer was the man named in the warrant, there have been reports that Paddock purchased ammunition from a dealer in Mesa, and Haig told reporters from Newsweek in October that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spoke with him after the shooting for about 20 minutes.
“I have to think that if it was really, really serious or there was something that they thought I did that was wrong, [the agents] would have been kicking my door down,” Haig said at the time. He said he had “no link” to Paddock. “I didn’t even know who this guy was.”
Calls by the Los Angeles Times to phone numbers identified as Haig’s were not returned.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal was the only publication to receive the mistaken document, which identified Haig as a “person of interest.” It’s the first public acknowledgment by law enforcement that a third person had been investigated in relation to the crime.
District Court Judge Elissa Cadish apologized for the error and issued a gag order on any publication of the original document that included the name.
“I ordered them redacted and thought they were redacted not only to protect the investigation, but because of concerns about possible danger to this individual,” Cadish said. “Unfortunately, I think the reality is now that it’s up online and I don’t think there isn’t a darn thing I can do to take it off.”
Earlier this month a federal judge unsealed more than 300 pages of search warrants and affidavits after the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations sued the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to make them public.
A police spokesman referred all questions about the ongoing investigation to the FBI. The FBI office in Las Vegas didn’t respond to a request for comment.
For almost four months, little had been released about the investigation, deepening the mystery of the motive behind Paddock’s attack on a country music festival from his Mandalay Bay hotel room — the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
But in recent weeks — along with the unsealed warrants — Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo held his first news conference since mid-October and took the unusual step of releasing an 81-page preliminary investigative report on the crime.
And on Tuesday, a state judge ordered the release of Paddock’s autopsy, which Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said in a statement had yet to be completed.
Fudenberg announced this month that Paddock’s cause of death was suicide.
The lack of information for months fueled conspiracy theories about the shooting. While the FBI continues to investigate, Lombardo this month dismissed theories about multiple shooters or ties to Islamic State.
“There was one shooter in the 1 October massacre,” Lombardo said. “There was only one person responsible, and that was Stephen Paddock.”
The investigative report said that Paddock had planned the attack for months, scouted out various locations that included Boston and downtown Las Vegas, and noted that Paddock’s girlfriend, Danley, had said he’d been acting “distant” with her over the year leading up to the shooting and that they were no longer intimate.
The report also said Danley observed Paddock behaving strangely during their stay at Mandalay Bay the month before the attack.
According to the report, she told investigators that 64-year-old Paddock was constantly looking out the windows of the room, which overlooked the site where the Route 91 Harvest country music festival would take place weeks later.
Through the release of the warrants and the report, the picture of Paddock grew a little clearer, but also seemed to raise more questions. Authorities found child pornography on a seized computer. His doctor was interviewed and said Paddock was “odd” and showed “little emotion.” He refused to take an antidepressant and was labeled a “germaphobe” by Danley.
The warrants released Tuesday noted a perplexing item left in his Mandalay Bay room the night of the shooting: A black vase with Styrofoam inserts and fake flowers he bought at a Wal-Mart in Mesquite.
The investigative report said Paddock had been stockpiling weapons over the course of the year. In the 34 years prior to September 2016, Paddock had purchased 29 firearms. In the next 11 months, he purchased more than 55 firearms and more than 100 accessories, including scopes, cases, “bump stocks” and ammunition. When police raided the room and discovered him dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, they found 23 guns.
Paddock fired more than 1,100 bullets from his room, and investigators found more than 4,000 rounds of unused ammunition. In his parked car at Mandalay Bay, they found Tannerite, which when struck by a bullet explodes.
The Associated Press, citing an unidentified law enforcement official, reported in October that Paddock bought 1,000 rounds of tracer ammunition in September from a private seller he met at a Phoenix gun show. The official said investigators searching Paddock’s hotel room found tracer rounds and a document with the name of the Mesa man who sold him the ammunition.
The website for Haig, the Arizona dealer, says: “SMA tracer is always bright ignition and bright tracer; that means it lights right out of the barrel and is easily visible in daylight.”
It also says: “We only accept orders by phone. This is done to protect the customer. Online shopping carts are best suited for mass production items. Our ammunition is hand made and it takes time to fabricated and load. Speaking to us on the phone also allows questions and establishes what the customer really wants to have our ammunition for.”
Montero reported from Las Vegas and Pearce from Los Angeles.
6:55 p.m.: The article was updated to include information about the ammunition dealer Douglas Haig and details from the search warrants unsealed Tuesday.
The article was originally published at 3:35 p.m.
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