Las Vegas Shooting: Investigators Grapple With Gunman’s ‘Secret Life’ – New York Times

LAS VEGAS — Investigators on Thursday were still piecing together the life of the gunman who killed 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas, and remained at a loss to explain what drove him to commit the massacre.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on Wednesday referred to the gunman, Stephen Paddock, as “disturbed,” but said that much of the past 10 years of his life was a mystery. “What we know is Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood,” he said.

“Don’t you think the concealment of his history, of his life, was well-thought-out?” the sheriff asked. “It’s incumbent upon us as professionals to dig that up.”

• Investigators on Wednesday confirmed that the gunman, had left a note inside his suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. “It was not a suicide note — I’m comfortable saying that,” Sheriff Lombardo said.

• “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” Marilou Danley, the gunman’s girlfriend, said in her first public statement on Wednesday.

• Of the 489 people injured in the shooting, 317 have been discharged from hospitals and about 50 are in critical condition.

• Top congressional Republicans, who for decades have resisted any legislative limits on guns, signaled on Wednesday that they would be open to banning “bump stocks,” the firearm accessory Mr. Paddock used to transform his rifles to mimic automatic weapon fire.

The fire chief wondered, ‘Are we under a Mumbai-style attack?’

Chief Greg Cassell of the Clark County Fire Department said on Thursday that several factors complicated the department’s response to the mass shooting, but he praised the emergency responders as heroic.

“We had a lot of challenges with this event,” Mr. Cassell said at a news conference. Wounded concertgoers fled to various hotels and called 911 from there, he said. “By the time it got relayed, it was ‘There’s a shooter at this location,’ ” he said. “It was, ‘People were shot.’ ”

Typically, all 911 calls from a single event would be linked, he said. But because of the confusion on Sunday night, operators logged the calls as coming from 32 separate incidents, each of which needed to be investigated. Mr. Cassell said they wondered, “Are we under a Mumbai-style attack, where we’ve got multiple things going on at multiple properties?”

He was referring to a group of coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, when gunmen stormed two hotels, a railroad station, a restaurant, a hospital and a Jewish center; 160 people were killed.

Mr. Cassell said that as crews were heading to the concert area in Las Vegas, they encountered injured people in every direction, so they stopped, aided those patients and called for more help, rather than continuing on to the site of the shooting.

He said a total of 160 members of local fire departments responded to the emergency. Only one was hurt, suffering a minor injury from a fall.

“We’ve been somewhat planning on a major event in our valley for an awful, awful long time along these lines,” he said. “We never planned on what happened the other night.”

Gunman’s girlfriend said she was unaware of the plan.

In her first public statement since the shooting, the gunman’s girlfriend said on Wednesday that he had sent her on a trip to the Philippines and wired her money there, but that she did not know he had been planning to harm anyone.

The statement from the woman, Marilou Danley, which was read by her lawyer, Matthew Lombard, came after Ms. Danley went to the Los Angeles offices of the F.B.I. for questioning, according to a law enforcement official. It was released as the authorities sought her insight into what prompted a man with no evident criminal history to become a mass murderer.

She stressed that she returned to the United States voluntarily, “because I know that the F.B.I. and the Las Vegas police department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them.”

Ms. Danley said she never believed her “kind, caring, quiet” boyfriend was capable of killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more.

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of, that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” she said.

The gunman booked accommodations near another festival.

The gunman’s motive remains unknown, Sheriff Lombardo said. Despite the meticulous planning that went into the attack, the gunman left behind few obvious traces, with no social media footprint to examine or manifesto to be pored over, he said.

The sheriff indicated that Mr. Paddock may have blended in intentionally, hiding the urge to violence that drove him to one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern United States history.

“Anything that would indicate this individual’s trigger point, that would cause him to do such harm, we haven’t understood it yet,” the sheriff said.

Mr. Lombardo said that a few days before the shooting, the gunman took another set of rooms in a high-rise building near another music festival. Through Airbnb, he rented a unit in the Ogden, a condominium building in downtown Las Vegas with a view of the Life is Beautiful festival, held from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25.

At least three of the rifles Mr. Paddock had in his luxury suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were equipped with scopes. Twelve of the rifles were outfitted with bump stocks, devices that enable the weapon to be fired as rapidly as a machine gun, shooting hundreds of rounds per minute, which may explain how he was able to rain such devastation on the crowd below, law enforcement officials said.

The president met with victims of the attack.

President Trump spent four hours in Las Vegas on Wednesday, during which he paid tribute to the professionalism of the doctors who treated the shooting victims. He said that meeting with the patients at one hospital made him “proud to be an American.”

The president said he met with some “absolutely terribly wounded” patients and hailed their bravery during the horrific attack Sunday night. He said many of those he met had been wounded as they sought to help others amid the hail of bullets.

[Video:
President Trump met with a victim of the Las Vegas shooting. Watch on YouTube.]

President Trump met with a victim of the Las Vegas shooting.
Video by Watch Life

Reporting was contributed by Jennifer Medina, Mitch Smith and Mark Landler from Las Vegas; Miriam Jordan from Los Angeles; Jonah Engel Bromwich, Richard Pérez-Peña, Sheri Fink and Matthew Haag from New York; and Russell Goldman from Hong Kong.

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