More information is being disclosed about the man who shot dead 59 people and injured 527 others in Las Vegas on Sunday night.
Stephen Paddock, 64, was a multimillionaire, it has now been revealed. His brother said he made millions from real estate deals. He also owned two planes and several properties across the US. Paddock seemed like a normal man, except he had a passion for gambling large sums.
When the SWAT Team blew open the door to the Las Vegas suite from where Paddock shot concertgoers on Sunday, they found 23 guns. He had secretly amassed a massive arsenal of 42 firearms. At least one of those was automatic, while another two had been modified with legal bump-stock devices that allows semi-automatic guns to give full-auto fire of up to 800 rounds a minute. Several had scopes, and packed military-grade ammunition.
Paddock took 23 of those guns into his Mandalay Bay suite over several days and set up two rifles on tripods at windows overlooking the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Apart from the 23 guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition were also found in the suite. In his car was found several pounds of a fertilizer used in bomb-making.
Paddock had lived a quiet and unremarkable life. As an adult, he lived in 27 residences in Nevada, Florida, and Texas. Asides from his heavy gambling habit, Paddock seemed an unremarkable man and didn’t even have a traffic violation on his Nevada criminal record.
The only thing unusual about his history is that he is the son of Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, a serial bank robber who ended up on the FBI Most Wanted list back in 1969 when he escaped from federal prison in Texas while serving a 20-year sentence. The FBI kept him on the list for the next eight years, and he was eventually found one year after he was removed from the list in 1978 while outside an Oregon Bingo hall. The agency said that the fugitive had been “diagnosed as psychopathic” and also had possible “suicidal tendencies.”
The Las Vegas gunman’s brother, Eric Paddock, described him as “just a guy who lived in Mesquite who drove down and gambled in Las Vegas and… liked burritos”.
Stephen Paddock, retired accountant had worked as an internal auditor at Lockheed Martin for three years in the late 1980s and was a manager and investor in apartment complexes located in Mesquite, Texas, and California, which made him millions. So it came as a shock when it was discovered that this unremarkable man checked into the hotel on Thursday, September 28, using his girlfriend’s ID then used 10 suitcases to methodically smuggle an arsenal up into his Mandalay Bay room over the next few days.
The shock only increased when police raided two of Paddock’s properties on Monday and found a second arsenal which was even bigger than the one found in the Mandalay Bay room. In his Mesquite home in a sleepy retirement community, which he purchased for just over $369,000 in 2015, police found 19 additional firearms, along with the explosive Tannerite – which is used to make explosive targets for target practice – and several thousand rounds of ammunition. Electronic devices were also found but they are still being examined to determine their purpose. As a SWAT team raided a second property owned by Paddock in Reno on Monday, bomb experts were on hand, due to concerns over booby traps. Police have not yet revealed what, if anything, they found there.
Eric said the revelation of his brother’s deadly plan, which saw him shoot from his 32nd floor suite down at a crowd of 22,000 people at a music festival below, was as unexpected as seeing a meteor suddenly landing on his street.
But as unexpected as it might have been, shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night, Stephen Paddock smashed two windows in his hotel room to create a kill box from where he shot at concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival below.
Two men who have admitted to selling weapons to Paddock said that he seemed normal at the time. Christopher Sullivan, general manager of Guns & Guitars in Mesquite, Nevada, told the New York Times that he sold Paddock a handgun and two rifles. He said Paddock had passed standard federal screening checks and seemed like “a normal fellow, a normal guy – nothing out of the ordinary.”
He said: “As for what goes on in a person’s mind, I couldn’t tell you. I know nothing about him personally.”
Chris Michel, the owner of Dixie GunWorx in St George, Utah, told St George News that Paddock came into his store three times, and bought one shotgun.
He said Paddock was an “average, everyday Joe Blow. Nobody that stood out; no red flags”. He added that Paddock seemed “mellow” and “not uptight”; a “grandpa next door”.
In the past, he has refused to sell to potential gun buyers who appeared to be “sketchy”, he said. but with Paddock, he did not have that feeling.
“None of the staff had any red flags whatsoever,” Chris said.
A motive for the shooting is still unknown. Though ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Paddock recently converted to Islam, his brother and the authorities have denied that claim. He had no religious or political affiliations, no military background, and was known to have just a couple of handguns, his brother said.
Neighbors at one of Paddock’s properties in Florida said that they had barely talked to him – that he gave them keys to check on his property, and would only turn up every three months or so. When he did, they said, he would rarely be seen because he stayed up late at night playing poker online.
Law enforcement officials said that in recent weeks he had made a number of transactions in Las Vegas that were in the tens of thousands of dollars. On some days he spent more than $30,000, and on others more than $20,000, according to an individual who had seen Paddock’s Multiple Currency Transaction Reports.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil on the Las Vegas strip for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival massacre. Mourners were seen paying tribute at a makeshift memorial consisting of dozens of candles on the Las Vegas Strip. Student mourners also held a candlelight vigil at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) for victims of the mass shooting.