The gunman who attacked a Las Vegas country music festival installed cameras outside his hotel room, including at least one in a room service cart, to watch for the approach of police officers, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Tuesday.
Officials still haven’t offered a motive for why Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., opened fire at a concert across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sunday night. Fifty-nine people were killed and more than 500 injured in the attack.
But additional information obtained by investigators revealed the extent to which Paddock apparently “pre-planned extensively” for the attack, Lombardo said.
One Mandalay Bay security guard, who had become separated from police, was shot in the leg through the door of Paddock’s room when he approached, Lombardo said. The security guard escaped and police surrounded the room, eventually breaking inside, where they discovered that Paddock had killed himself.
Lombardo said that Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was still out of the country and in the Phillippines, but that authorities were hoping to talk to her soon. Some news reports, citing anonymous law enforcement officials, have said that Paddock wired $100,000 to the Philippines in the week before the attack.
The mass shooting has launched another debate over access to guns in the United States.
President Trump, on his way to visit hurricane victims in Puerto Rico before a planned visit to Las Vegas on Wednesday, told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” not stating whether he would be for or against certain regulations now under debate.
Authorities discovered Paddock had at least 23 weapons in his hotel room, mostly rifles that were originally designed for military use but which have become popular among civilians. Paddock had been able to squeeze off a rapid stream of what sounded like fully automatic fire at the defenseless concert-goers at the outdoor Route 91 Harvest festival across the street.
Automatic weapons — which unleash multiple bullets with a single pull of the trigger — are more heavily regulated under U.S. law than semiautomatic guns, which fire one bullet per trigger pull. But they are not banned outright.
At least one of Paddock’s rifles had been modified with a legal “bump stock”-style device that enables the shooter to rapidly fire off rounds without actually converting the rifle to a fully automatic weapon, one federal law enforcement source said.
Other weapons may have been converted to fully automatic fire and were still being examined, the source said.
The shooting generated comments by one of the survivors of the attack, country musician Caleb Keeter, a guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band.
“I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd Amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night,” Keeter wrote in a message he posted to Twitter.
“Writing my parents and the love of my life a goodbye last night and a living will because I felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night was enough for me to realize that this is completely and totally out of hand,” Keeter wrote.“These rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity of victim shot by this . . . coward received shrapnel wounds. We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.”
The attack also brought a tearful rebuke by late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, whose comedy shows have become increasingly political over the last month as his newborn son’s heart condition prompted him to take a stand on healthcare legislation, just as an attack on his hometown of Las Vegas prompted him to call for gun control Monday night.
He showed photographs of the dozens of Republican senators who have voted against tighter gun-control laws.
Republican leaders “sent their thoughts and their prayers today, which is good,” Kimmel said. “They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country.”
Richard Winton in Los Angeles and Joseph Tanfani in Washington contributed to this report.
Matt Pearce is a national reporter for The Times. Follow him on Twitter at @mattdpearce.
2:20 p.m.: This story was updated with information from Tuesday’s law enforcement briefing.
This story was originally published at 10:15 a.m.