Sunday 22 October 2017

Stephen Paddock: Who was the Las Vegas attacker and what was his motive?

What we know about the man named as the perpetrator of America's deadliest mass shooting

Stephen Paddock

Roland Oliphant

The man who killed at least 59 people in the United States worst ever mass shooting was a wealthy property owner and a regular in Las Vegas casinos who made a living through "gambling and speculation," it has been claimed.

Stephen C Paddock, 64, killed himself before armed police blasted their way into his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

Next to his body, police found an arsenal of weapons including more than ten rifles but no immediate clue telling them what drove him to open fire from his window at concert goers below.

The Islamic State terror group claimed Paddock converted to Islam a few months ago, through its official Amaq news channel.

People hug and cry outside the Thomas & Mack Center after a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
People hug and cry outside the Thomas & Mack Center after a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: People tend to the wounded outside the festival ground after an apparent shooting on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
A pair of cowboy boots is shown in the street outside the concert venue after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas StripY
Police vehicles block a street corner after a deadly shooting at a music festival (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)
A woman sits on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside of a music festival along the Las Vegas Strip
Blurred image of heavily armed police officers running
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01 People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
People react at gunshots heard at music festival in Las Vegas, U.S., October 1, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. @RTBLECKvia REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Police officers advise people to take cover near the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Las Vegas Shooting
Las Vegas Shooting
Las Vegas Shooting

They said the attack, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, was carried out by a “soldier” of the caliphate and was done “in response to calls to target coalition countries.”

In another statement released hours later, Isil referred to Paddock by the nom de guerre Abu Abd al-Barr al-Amriki and said he answered a call to arms by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Stephen Paddock
Stephen Paddock

US officials have said they are examining the claim, but are yet to find any evidence linking the shooter to any organised terrorist group.

Relatives described Paddock as “just a guy” who was never in a hurry and retired to the Nevada desert to enjoy a dry climate and Las Vegas’s casinos.

"We can’t understand what happened," a distraught Eric Paddock, Stephen’s brother, told reporters outside his home in Orlando, Florida.

He said his brother was "not a normal guy" and "played high stakes video poker". He said his brother being named by authorities as the shooting suspect was "like if an asteroid fell out of the sky".

A night time view of the scene of a mass shooting, bottom right, on the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A night time view of the scene of a mass shooting, bottom right, on the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Eric Paddock says his brother was a multimillionaire who made much of his money investing in real estate.

He told reporters on Monday in Orlando that his brother was also an accountant for many years.

He was not aware of his brother having any recent financial difficulties.

Stephen Paddock recently sent a walking aide by post to his 90-year-old mother.

A pair of cowboy boots is shown in the street outside the concert venue after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
A pair of cowboy boots is shown in the street outside the concert venue after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

The brother says the shooter collected coins when he was a child.

"He’s not an avid gun guy at all. The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just – where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that,” he told MSNBC.

U.S. President Donald Trump stands with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during a moment of silence in the wake of the the mass shooting in Las Vegas at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump stands with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during a moment of silence in the wake of the the mass shooting in Las Vegas at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

"He’s just a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down and gambled in Las Vegas. He did...stuff. Eat burritos."

The family grew up in Sun Valley, California, Bruce Paddock, another of his brothers, told NBC.

Their father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a career bank robber who was on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list between 1969 and 1977, it was reported.

Stephen Paddock worked various jobs, including as an auditor at a company that later became Lockheed Martin between 1985-1988.

Family members told local media he also made a living from renting and managing apartment buildings, and he appears to have owned a string of properties in Florida, Texas, and Nevada. 

Former neighbours said Paddock had said his main source of income was gambling.

Don and Sharon Judy, who lived next door to Paddock and his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, when he owned a house in Melbourne, Florida between 2013 and 2015, said he was “very friendly” and “lived by gambling.”

“He was very open about that. He said he traveled all around to his different homes, that he gambled,” Mrs Judy told Florida Today.

Mrs Judy said he had once shown her how he had won $20,000 via online gambling on his smartphone.

"He said 'Marilou and I that’s what we do for a living, we gamble and we speculate,' she added.

Citing law enforcement sources, NBC said records showed Paddock had racked up several gambling transactions in the “tens of thousands” of dollars in recent weeks. It was unclear if those were wins or losses.

Paddock moved into a three bedroom, single storey house at the Sun City retirement community in Mesquite, a desert town of about 17,400 people 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, in 2015. 

Police were searching the home on Monday.

Neighbours said Paddock and Ms Danley kept themselves to themselves and he does not appear to have had any trouble with the police.

Joe Lombardo, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff, said local police had nothing more on him than a seven-year old citation, which had been resolved as “a normal practice in the court system."

Paddock held a pilot’s license, owned two aircraft, and had a permit to hunt in Alaska. He had several legally owned guns, but they do not appear to have been in the arsenal he amassed in his hotel room.

Police say Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel last Thursday September 28, but it was unclear how he amassed his huge arsenal of weapons in the room unnoticed. 

Sherriff Lombardo said police had located Ms Danley, who is believed to be from the Philippines, “outside the country” and did not believe she was involved in the shooting.

“She was not with him when he checked in. We have discovered he was utilizing some of her identification,” he said.

Ms Danley’s LinkedIn page described her as a “Gambling & Casinos Professional” who worked at the Atlantic Casino Resort Spa in Reno between 2010 and 2013.

The terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claimed Paddock had acted on its instructions after converting to Islam several months ago. It offered no evidence for the claim.

The gunman responsible for the worst mass shooting in modern US history is believed to be a grandfather who lived in a remote desert home.

Telegraph.co.uk

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