LAS VEGAS, October 5 — Investigators trying to figure out the Las Vegas gunman’s state of mind have so far been stymied by the secret life he appeared to lead before the attack.
Stephen Paddock’s live-in girlfriend described him as a “kind, caring, quiet man” with whom she hoped to spend her future. She said she had no idea he was planning a massacre on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday that left 58 people dead and nearly 500 injured.
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Authorities believe Paddock had an escape plan, though he fatally shot himself as police closed in on him inside his luxury suite. Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo declined to elaborate on why investigators believe he intended to survive.
Lombardo said Wednesday that Paddock had 1,600 rounds of ammunition and several containers of an explosive commonly used in target shooting that totalled 50 pounds (23 kilograms) in his car. But it wasn’t clear what, if anything, Paddock planned with the explosives, he said.
Authorities also revealed that the weekend before the shooting, Paddock had rented a high-rise condo in a building that overlooked the Life is Beautiful alternative music festival featuring Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182. Lombardo offered no other details on what led Paddock there.
Eric Paddock called his 64-year-old multimillionaire brother a “private guy.” As for what triggered the massacre, Eric Paddock said, “Something happened that drove him into the pit of hell.”
Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, returned to the U.S. from the Philippines on Tuesday and was interviewed Wednesday by FBI agents in Los Angeles.
The 62-year-old said in a statement read by her lawyer that Paddock had sent her to see family in her native Philippines weeks earlier, and she was still overseas at the time of the attack. She said he wired her money so she could buy a house for her family, and she was initially pleased but later feared it was a way to break up with her.
The pair met at a casino while she was a high-limit hostess for Club Paradise at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, his brother Eric Paddock told The Washington Post.
Danley’s sisters in Australia said in a TV interview that she was a “good person” who would have stopped Paddock had she been there and known about the plot.
The 58 people slain in the attacks included a father of six, a man who died in his boyfriend’s arms and a university student who was studying health care management.
Nearly 500 others were injured. About 150 are still hospitalized, with about 50 in critical condition Wednesday night, hospital officials said.
The injured ended up in 13 hospitals scattered across southern Nevada, with most of them treated and released. One of them, Braden Matejka, of British Columbia, Canada, left the hospital Wednesday for a 22-hour road trip home with his girlfriend and parents. He told The Associated Press he couldn’t fly back to Canada because he had been shot in the head.
TIGHTENED GUN LAWS?
Senior congressional Republicans said Wednesday they were open to considering legislation banning “bump stocks” like Paddock used to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automated weapons.
The comments from lawmakers including the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, marked a surprising departure from GOP lawmakers’ general antipathy to any kind of gun regulations. But they were far from a guarantee of a path forward for the new legislation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., especially with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan making clear their priorities are elsewhere.
Other GOP legislators who voiced interest in banning “bump stocks” included Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Thune of South Dakota.