In a shocking and lethal turn of events last Sunday night, a gunman opened fire on a lively crowd of over 22,000 people attending a music concert from a suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, killing 58 and injuring hundreds.
The Las Vegas Shooting
On October 1st, late on a Sunday, a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas on a crowd attending a music festival from a suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel. According to authorities, sounds of gunfire lasted roughly ten full minutes before finally ending.
The gunman killed 58 people and wounded over 400, in what has become the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. Out of the 58 dead, several were mothers and fathers, and all left a life uniquely special and irreplaceable.
When officers first made contact with the gunman at the Mandalay Bay hotel, they were forced to back off temporarily and await backup after taking gunfire. Later, when police breached the gunman’s suite, he was found dead. Officials believe he killed himself.
Officials identified the shooter to be a wealthy 64-year-old accountant and avid gambler named Stephen Paddock.
Police reported Paddock had set up cameras both inside and outside his suite. They found a total of 23 weapons scattered around the room.
Who was Paddock?
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Las Vegas shooting was that it came from nowhere, from someone who seemed sane and rational, with no significant preexisting criminal record and no political, religious, or other clear motivation. Even now, several days after the shooting, authorities are still struggling to find any substantial evidence within Paddock’s life to answer the essential question: Why?
A resident of Mesquite, Nevada, Stephen Paddock was born in a lower-middle-class family, the son of a bank robber. He married twice, both failed marriages with no children.
After going into accounting with the IRS and dabbling in real estate, Paddock made himself a notable fortune. He eventually became a high-stakes gambler, chiefly invested in video poker.
Before the shooting, he had been in a relationship with a woman from the Philippines, Marilou Danley, though according to the Los Angeles Times, the relationship may have experienced issues.
Paddock was a gun enthusiast—records show that he had been purchasing guns and ammunition for several decades. Authorities said he had managed to quietly stockpile over 33 weapons just in the last 12 months. What is more chilling is that all of his gun purchases were entirely legal, and had passed government background tests.
Paddock kept up with all his finances and had only run into the law once, with a traffic violation.
In his hotel room, the FBI found around 20 guns in his hotel room. Also, the FBI found an additional 50 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his house in Mesquite, Nevada. Stephen Paddock used semiautomatic rifles, which are extremely powerful guns that can fire multiple bullets with the pull of a trigger. These rifles were outfitted with a “bump stock” which is a mechanism that allows the gunman to shoot five hundred rounds per minute, according to the FBI.
Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was a person of interest for the police. They later found out that she was in the Philippines and was cleared of any association with this case. When she returns to the United States, she will be interrogated by the federal law enforcement. Stephen Paddock is said to have wired a hundred thousand dollars to the Philippines, which the FBI was closely examining this transaction with the help of Filipino authorities.
People who had met Paddock before describe him as someone who was smart, with an analytical and systematic mind.
CNN described Paddock as someone who tended to avoid interaction with others. His younger brother Eric Paddock described him as a person who kept a very private lifestyle. Paddock’s private life is a significant reason why his motive for the Las Vegas shooting remains unclear.
However, Eric also described Paddock as someone who was generous to his family and was stunned by Stephen’s inexplicable actions. In an interview with the New York Times, another brother of Paddock’s, Patrick, described him as the least violent one in his family, and also expressed surprise.
Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, said in a statement that she knew Paddock as a caring and quiet man, and never expected he would be capable of committing a crime to this extent.
Officials continue to search Paddock’s life for clues as to why he decided to fire upon an unsuspecting crowd at a Las Vegas concert.
President Donald Trump states these words about the shooting from the White House: “My fellow Americans. We are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief. Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation, and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops”.
The Las Vegas shooting has brought to light the extent of security at hotels and the accuracy of background checks.
The tragedy also prompted sympathy and support from all ends of the United States and demonstrated that even under political turmoil, the country remains united when the need arises.