Saturday 22 September 2018

Police release video of raid on Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock's hotel room

Ken Ritter and Michael Balsamo

The hustle and bustle of Las Vegas went on and gamblers continued playing, seemingly unaware that upstairs a man was unleashing gunfire in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Police made their way across the casino floor with guns drawn. "There's a shooter! He's shot and killed multiple people already," an officer shouts as he passes on the hunt for the man who killed 58 people from his high-rise hotel suite.

The officers work their way up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel. As they approach his suite from a stairwell, another officer yells "Breach! Breach! Breach!" before a loud bang and a fire alarm begins to sound.

Inside, they find Stephen Paddock lying in a pool of blood with rifles around him. An officer pulls a high-powered rifle from a window ledge as others discover an arsenal of weapons, cameras, a homemade gas mask, venting system and even a vibrator.

Officers searching hallways during the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/AP)
Officers searching hallways during the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/AP)

But more than seven months after the October 1 massacre, police are no closer to answering the key question in the investigation: What led the retired accountant and gambler to do it?

On Wednesday, police released hours of footage from two officers' body-worn cameras in response to a legal suit by The Associated Press and other news organisations.

Body camera footage showing an officer carrying an assault rifle past a broken-open window at the Mandalay Bay Hotel (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/AP)
Body camera footage showing an officer carrying an assault rifle past a broken-open window at the Mandalay Bay Hotel (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/AP)

The videos show officers inside Paddock's room. The gunman's body is seen on his back, clad in dark trousers and a long-sleeve shirt with a glove on his left hand. A pool of blood stains the carpet near his head.

Officers noted the amount of firepower Paddock had - more than 10 high-powered firearms. Others talked about Paddock "blasting out the window" and pointed to "a whole suitcase full of loaded AK mags".

Investigators believe the 64-year-old acted alone in the attack and shot himself before officers burst in.

The video released on Wednesday, which lasts over two hours, represents a sample of hundreds of hours of body-camera recordings. It does not provide a complete view of everything police discovered in the room.

October 7, 2017: A member of the FBI walks among piles of personal items at the scene of the Las Vegas mass shooting, days after the attack on October 1. Gunman Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds in 10 minutes from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel into a crowd of thousands of people attending a music concert below. He left 58 people dead and 546 injured. Photo: AP Photo/John Locher
October 7, 2017: A member of the FBI walks among piles of personal items at the scene of the Las Vegas mass shooting, days after the attack on October 1. Gunman Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds in 10 minutes from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel into a crowd of thousands of people attending a music concert below. He left 58 people dead and 546 injured. Photo: AP Photo/John Locher

The footage does not show what the first officer through the door saw because he did not activate his body camera.

That revelation raised questions about whether officers followed department policy. Police refused to say whether the officer would be disciplined for violating department policy.

The Mandalay Bay hotel and police have differed over the events leading up to the mass shooting
The Mandalay Bay hotel and police have differed over the events leading up to the mass shooting

The AP and other media outlets sued to obtain videos, 911 recordings, evidence logs and interview reports to shed light on the response by public agencies, emergency workers and hotel officials while Paddock fired for more than 10 minutes.

A preliminary report released in January said Paddock meticulously planned the attack, researched police Swat tactics, rented hotel rooms overlooking outdoor concerts and investigated potential targets in at least four US cities.

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