Sunday 23 September 2018

Las Vegas massacre: documents suggest some may have encountered ‘ranting’ gunman

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department made 1,200 pages of police reports and accounts public after losing court battles to keep them secret.

Emergency services at the scene in Las Vegas
Emergency services at the scene in Las Vegas

By Ken Ritter and Michelle L Price

Police documents about last October’s Las Vegas shooting attack include reports from at least two people who said a person they believed to be the gunman ranted in the days before the massacre about the federal government and gun control.

The claims by those people and others could not be verified because the names of all witnesses were blacked out in the 1,200 pages of police reports and accounts that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department made public after losing court battles to keep them secret.

Police and the FBI have not determined a motive in the investigation into the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Authorities said they believe Stephen Paddock acted alone and the attack had no link to international terrorism. Law enforcement refused on Wednesday to provide any additional information including refusing to say whether the reports were credible.

Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made What a witness told investigators Stephen Paddock said

A jailed man who gave a statement in November to police and the FBI recalled a man he believed to be Paddock telling him that Federal Emergency Management Agency “camps” set up after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were “a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kicking down doors and … confiscating guns”.

“Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” the man said Paddock told him less than a month before the October 1 shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”

In a handwritten account, a woman said she overheard a man she later said was Paddock talking with another man at a Vegas restaurant three days before the massacre.

She told police Paddock seemed angry about the 1990s standoffs at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge in Idaho.

“At the time, I just thought ‘strange guys’ and I wanted to leave,” said the woman.

The documents detailed terror, confusion and compassion among people helping the wounded after gunfire rained from a 32nd floor hotel room on a crowd of 22,000 people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Police footage from the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas

One woman told police she refused to leave her lifeless friend, whose eyes were still and lips turned blue, until a group of men picked her off the ground and guided her to a fence. One left a red bandanna on her friend’s face.

A stagehand made a run for his pick-up truck when he was suddenly surrounded by people begging for a ride away from the scene.

“I told them to get in however they could,” he said.

A woman who fell wounded said another woman who pushed her was shot five times. She decided to play dead.

“A good guy just grabbed me and said, ‘Love, you’re gonna die here if I leave you here’,” she told police.

A housekeeper at the Mandalay Bay hotel described her discomfort at Paddock sitting at a table eating soup and staring at her as she cleaned his hotel room four days before the shooting.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said early this month the police investigation was not finished.

He also apologised to the public for the release of information that he said would “further traumatise a wounded community”.

Police and the FBI refused to answer questions from the Associated Press about the account from a man who said he met with Paddock outside a Las Vegas sporting goods store after posting an online ad to sell schematics to convert semi-automatic guns to fire automatically.

The man said Paddock became upset and launched into a tirade about gun control when the man rejected an offer of 500 dollars apiece to modify semi-automatic guns to fire automatically.

Clark County Commission chairman Steve Sisolak said he had been assured that no motive has been identified.

Media outlets sued to obtain videos, emergency call recordings, evidence logs and interview reports to shed light on the response by public agencies, emergency workers and hotel officials during and after the shooting. The department has not provided all the materials it collected.

Press Association

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