Between law enforcement updates and growing media accounts, a hazy picture has emerged of Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old retiree who police say unleashed a fusillade of gunfire at a country music festival, killing at least 58. But many questions remain.
What was Paddock’s motive?
More than two days after the shooting, law enforcement officials are still mostly at a loss understanding why Paddock decided to attack the Route 91 Harvest Festival’s crowd of about 22,000 people.
The attack, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, was meticulously planned, police said. Paddock, who checked into the hotel last week, set up a ring of video cameras in and around his suite, and stocked it with almost two dozen weapons.
“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Tuesday.
At least 12 of the rifles in his possession at the time of the shooting were outfitted with a legal modification called a “bump stock” that turned them into machine gun-like weaponry capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute.
Lombardo said that, with all signs pointing to the attack being highly premeditated, investigators are now focused on finding any details on a potential motive.
Who was Paddock, and what did he do the days before the shooting?
Friends and relatives of Paddock said they were shocked to learn police had named him as the attacker. His brother, Eric, said he “couldn’t be more dumbfounded” by the shooting.
They described Paddock as an avid gambler, recognizable at the high-stakes tables in Vegas, who lived in an upscale retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. But he drew little attention to himself at home and had no serious criminal record. He was one of four brothers raised by a single mother; his father was a bank robber featured on the FBI’s Most Wanted List after breaking out of prison.
Paddock wasn’t aggressive, or openly political or religious, according to his family. One brother, Patrick Paddock, told The New York Times that Stephen Paddock “was the least violent in the family during my childhood,” before continuing: “So, it’s kind of like, ‘Who?’”
Investigators say Paddock had been seen gambling more than $10,000 a day multiple times in recent weeks, including some transactions topping $30,000, NBC reported.
Lombardo told reporters that various hotel staff members had gone into his room in the days before the attack without thinking anything was imminent.
“I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point,” Lombardo said Monday.
How did he obtain so many guns?
SWAT officers found Paddock in his room at the Mandalay Bay dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was surrounded by 23 weapons, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and several gun accessories. Photographs obtained by Boston 25′s Jacqui Heinrich show some of the assault-style weaponry found in his room.
Explosives, thousands of rounds of ammunition and 19 other firearms were found at his primary residence. Including those from the hotel and a second home, Paddock had at least 47 weapons.
Several gun shop owners have told news outlets that Paddock complied with all required background checks and purchase procedures. “He was an average everyday Joe Blow guy,” Chris Michel, the owner of Dixie Gunworx, told ABC News. “I remember his face, his name, him coming in.”
The “bump stocks” found on the weapons in Paddock’s hotel room were completely legal and relatively affordable, although they are controversial. While fully automatic weapons are strictly regulated under federal law, bump stock modifications make “converting a semiautomatic to fully automatic ... very, very easy,” John Sullivan, lead engineer for the gun advocacy group Defense Distributed, told Wired.
Did Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, know anything about his plans?
Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, was traveling in the Philippines at the time of the attack, and investigators met her upon her return at the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday night. A federal official told the Los Angeles Times that Danley was expected to be questioned.
“We anticipate some information from her shortly,” Lombardo said. “She is currently a person of interest.”
Danley’s two sisters told an Australian TV station that Paddock had unexpectedly bought his girlfriend a plane ticket to the Philippines, telling her he’d found a cheap deal. He’d also reportedly transferred $100,000 to a bank account in the Philippines. The sisters said that Danley had no idea what her partner was planning.
Paddock’s brother described the pair’s relationship positively, but other reports suggest Paddock may have been verbally abusive to Danley. Starbucks employees who served the pair near their home in Mesquite said Paddock would regularly berate Danley in public.
“It happened a lot,” Esperanza Mendoza, a supervisor of the Starbucks in the Virgin River Casino, said. “He was so rude to her in front of us.”
Paddock met Danley, who is originally from the Philippines but also holds Australian citizenship, while she was working at Club Paradise, part of the Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa in Reno, Nevada. She worked as a high-limit hostess and often gambled with Paddock, according to The Washington Post.
Danley, who moved to the U.S. in 1989, was married when she met Paddock, according to The New York Times. She divorced her husband of 25 years, Geary Danley, in 2015.
Danley has a daughter and grandchildren, and was described as very friendly by her neighbors.
Is there anything behind Paddock’s $100,000 transfer to the Philippines?
Paddock wired $100,000 to the Philippines, NBC News reported on Tuesday, but the recipient and the reason for the transfer was unclear.
His brother, Eric, speculated that the money was for Danley. He said that kind of money wasn’t a “huge amount” for Paddock, elaborating: “Steve took care of the people he loved. He made me and my family wealthy.”
Investigators say they intend to look into the transfer after they speak with Danley.