Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock 'transferred $100k to girlfriend' days before massacre
The girlfriend of the gunman who killed 59 people on the Las Vegas Strip is being questioned by police after returning to the US from the Philippines.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said investigators are hoping to get some insight from Marilou Danley on why Stephen Paddock opened fire on a concert crowd from a high-rise hotel room.
Ms Danley had been out of the country for weeks before the shooting but had been named as "a person of interest".
It has emerged that Paddock wired $100,000 (€84,936) to his girlfriend Marilou Danley in the Philippines last week, authorities in Manila said on Wednesday, citing the FBI.
"Danley arrived in the Philippines last month, and then there was a wire transfer to her account for $100,000 from Stephen," Nick Suarez, spokesman for the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), told AFP.
Police said Ms Danley, a former casino worker who was in the Philippines when the mass shooting in Las Vegas took place, was not believed to be involved in the shooting.
Pictures emerged on Tuesday of Paddock in the Philippines at what appeared to be a gathering of Ms Danley's family.
Security expert Jeffrey Simon, author of Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat, said: "I think the girlfriend is key. Hopefully, she may be able to provide some answers.
"But we may have America's worst mass shooting and never know really why it happened."
FBI investigators said they were looking at Paddock's finances as a matter of urgency in a bid to establish a motive for the massacre.
Relatives said Paddock, a former accountant, was worth at least $2 million (€1,698,730) and obsessively gambled tens of thousands of dollars.
The gunman's brother, Eric Paddock, said he recently received a text message showing his brother had won $40,000 (€33,974).
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"He'd grouse when he'd lost. But he never said he'd lost $4 million or something. I think he would have told me," Mr Paddock said.
But he appears to have been gambling particularly heavily in the weeks ahead of the massacre, with records kept by Las Vegas casinos showing he engaged in 16 transactions of over $10,000 in recent weeks. It was not immediately clear if they represented wins or losses.
Police are still trying to find a motive to explain why Paddock, 64, fired hundreds of bullets into crowds who gathered for an open air concert on Sunday night.
The gunman was already dead when armed police blasted their way into his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel a 11:20 PM on Sunday night, ending a 9-11 minute killing spree that left 59 dead and over five hundred injured. Police said he had shot himself.
Paddock's body was found amid a vast arsenal of high-powered weapons that he appeared to have assembled over several days in preparation for the massacre.
Investigators sweeping the room found no fewer than 23 guns, including a Kalashnikov and AR-15 assault rifles, and a vast stockpile of of military grade .223 calibre ammunition.
At least two of the weapons had been set up on tripods at windows overlooking the concert site, and 12 had been modified with "bump-stocks", a mechanical device to depress the trigger faster than a finger, simulating automatic machine gun fire.
Police said they believe he used 10 suitcases to smuggle the weapons up to the room, which he had checked into using Ms Danley's ID four days earlier.
They also found Ms Danley's slot machine card, which he had apparently been using to gamble with.
Early on Monday, police found another arms cache including 19 weapons, several pounds of a commercially available explosive, and thousands of rounds of ammunition at his home in Mesquite, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
They found traces of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which can be used to make homemade bombs, in his car.
Paddock began his killing spree at eight minutes past ten on Sunday night, when he opened fire from his hotel room windows on concert goers at the the Route 91 country music festival below.
Craig Herman (57), a contractor, said: "I was right in front of the stage. I heard 'pop, pop, pop' over and over again. When he was reloading I ran. I stepped over a guy with blood pouring out of his head. He was dead. Gone. I saw maybe 15 others like that before I got out."
"There were people screaming, lying on the ground. I've never seen so much blood. I kept thinking what type of person would do this, who would be that kind of stupid? Was it the Taliban? Mexican cartels? gang related? But it was someone a bit like me," he added.
Videos filmed by concert goers show that Paddock’s first volley lasted only about ten seconds - a time scale consistent with emptying the magazine on an automatic assault rifle. He fired several similar volleys over a period of about ten minutes.
As casualties mounted, dozens of bystanders, including off duty soldiers, policemen, and nurses, but also ordinary civilians scrambled to attend to the wounded.
They included Ross Woodward, a trooper with 1st Queens Dragoon Guards who had just completed a training deployment in the Nevada desert.
Recognizing the sound of automatic fire, Woodward and two other off duty soldiers from the Welsh regiment ran towards the scene to tend to the wounded and shepherd people to safely.
"He just said that he helped the injured and to get people to safety and that was it really,” said Curtis Dyer, his brother, told the Press Association. "I'm dead proud of what he's done, that he was able to do it."