Filipina girlfriend had no knowledge of plan
Almost a week since the incident, what led 64-year-old Stephen Paddock to fire bullets over the 22,000 attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas remains a mystery.
The country music festival, which was ending it third and last day of weekend festivities, instead resulted in 59 deaths, and close to 500 injuries, making it the worst shooting attack in modern U.S. history.
Paddock’s Filipina girlfriend, Marilou Danley — whom investigators hoped would shed some light — said she had no knowledge of his plan when meeting with FBI on Wednesday, October 4.
“There’s all kinds of things that surprise us in each one of these events. That’s the one in this one, and we are not there yet,” said FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. “We have a lot of work to do.”
“This individual and this attack didn’t leave the sort of immediately accessible thumbprints that you can find on some mass casualty attacks,” added McCabe.
Paddock arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on September 28, three days before his 10-minute shooting spree on Sunday, October 1.
Authorities believe a hotel security guard, Juan Campos, drew attention from Paddock when checking on an alarm set off.
Room searches found a number of details like cameras both inside and outside the suite, a stockpile of weapons, and a note containing numbers.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said the attack was “pre-planned, extensively”. As for the note, he said it was not a suicide note and that the numbers were being analyzed.
Evidence of Paddock’s plan to escape was also found, but authorities were not able to say what the evidence was.
New details on Paddock himself came out as well through people who knew him and public records revealing him through descriptions like an avid gambler, financially well-to-do, quiet, son of a 1970s FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted bank robber and diagnosed psychopath, and both a good and bad partner to his girlfriend depending on the source.
On Friday, October 6, Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said investigators have gone through over 1,000 leads — none point to why Paddock carried out his attack.
Lone shooter but possibly had some help
Newly-discovered evidence is leading investigators to see if anyone else was in Paddock’s hotel room.
According to NBC News, investigators found two significant discoveries: a charger that did not match any of Paddock’s cell phones, and garage records that show someone using one of Paddock’s key cards to enter the room around the same time Paddock’s car left the hotel garage.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Ken McMahill said on Friday that whether Paddock had help or not is still unclear, but they still believe Paddock was a lone shooter.
“We’re very confident that there was not another shooter in that room,” said McMahill. “What I cannot confirm to you today, and what we continue to investigate is, whether anybody else may have known about this incident before he carried it out.”
Earlier searches found 23 firearms (10 luggages worth) in Paddock’s room — 12 of the found rifles were found outfitted with “bump stocks”, an apparatus that enables a gun to function like a machine gun. A total of 47 firearms were also found by police in Paddock’s two houses in Reno, and Mesquite, Nevada, and at the hotel.
Lombardo who initially described Paddock as a “lone wolf” first suggested the possibility that Paddock could have had some help in handling his stockpile of weapons.
“Do you think this was all accomplished on his own? You’ve got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point,” Lombardo said.
“It’s troublesome this individual was able to move this amount of gear into a hotel room unassisted,” he added. “It’s troublesome for the amount of stuff he had at both residences unassisted.”
Police reported Thursday that they found an additional 50 pounds of explosive materials, and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in Paddock’s car which was at the hotel’s parking lot.
This has led investigators to suggest Paddock may have planned for a larger massacre.
Among the materials found in his car were several pounds of ammonium nitrate, and later 50 pounds of Tannerite, said Lombardo. Tannerite is a patented brand name used to form homemade exploding targets for firearms practice.
CNN’s law enforcement analyst, Art Roderick, said the supply of explosives may be indications of plans for a car bomb.
Paddock reportedly also attempted to purchase tracer ammunition at a gun show in the Phoenix area, but the vendor did not have any.
“It allows you to keep your weapon on not necessarily a specific target, but a specific area,” said Roderick. “There would have been a lot higher casualty rate if he had tracer rounds.”
Paddock had apparently been purchasing weapons since 1982, including 33 in the past year, Special Agent in Charge Jill A. Snyder of the San Francisco Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive told CBS News on Wednesday.
Investigators are interested to see if something may have happened between October 2016 and last month that made him make those purchases.
According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, sellers are only required to report sales of two or more handguns of the same buyer if the purchases were made at the same time, or within five business days of each other.
Gun shops who have sold to Paddock in the past say he cleared background checks. Snyder said Paddock made his purchases in Nevada, Utah, California, and Texas.
“What we know is that Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo, and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood,” said Lombardo.
Previous music festivals
Police are also looking to see if Paddock had been eyeing previous music festivals in Las Vegas and Chicago, Illinois.
Paddock reportedly rented a room in Las Vegas’ Ogden condominium complex through AirBnB from Friday, September 22, to Monday, September 25 — about a week before his deadly attack. The booked dates coincided with Life is Beautiful, another music festival whose headliners were Chance the Rapper and Lorde.
“Was he doing pre-surveillance? We don’t know yet. This is all conjecture at this point,” said Lombardo.
On Thursday, police said they were also looking into whether Paddock booked rooms in a Chicago hotel overlooking the widely attended Lollapalooza music festival that took place on August 3 to August 6.
A photo obtained by TMZ shows two Blackstone Hotel bookings under a guest named Stephen Paddock, who didn’t end up staying. One booking was for August 1, and second, on August 3 — both had checkout dates of August 6.
The rooms had a prime view of the festival’s Grant Park venue, and were reportedly requested to have a “view room” which only faced the park, according to TMZ.
“We can confirm that a reservation was made under the name Stephen Paddock; however, authorities have not confirmed that this is the same person as the Las Vegas shooter,” said hotel spokeswoman Emmy Carragher in a Los Angeles Times report. “We are cooperating with the authorities on this matter.”
Filipina girlfriend, no knowledge of plan
Danley — the 62-year-old Filipina girlfriend of Paddock — said she had no knowledge of Paddock’s plan when meeting with FBI at the Los Angeles Federal Building on Wednesday. Her lawyer said she intends to fully cooperate with the investigation on Paddock.
“I am devastated by the deaths and injuries that have occurred and my prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those who have been hurt by these awful events,” said Danley.
The two met at Club Paradise at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada where Danley worked as a high-limit hostess, according to Paddock’s younger brother Eric. Danley and Paddock reportedly started dating in 2013.
Defense attorney Matthew Lombard said Danley was not expecting the $100,000 Paddock sent to her in the Philippines a few days before the shooting, and was worried he was breaking up with her. A source close to Danley’s family claimed the money was to help the family build a home.
“I was grateful, but honestly, I was worried, that first, the unexpected trip home, and then the money, was a way of breaking up with me,” she added. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”
Police were first prompted to suspect Danley’s involvement in the shooting after Paddock had used her ID documents to check into the 32nd-floor hotel room. She was later ruled out as a person of interest, as she was believed to be either in the Philippines or Japan with friends.
Antonette Mangroband, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI), confirmed that Danley had been in the Philippines since September 25. She returned to the U.S. at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from the Philippines Tuesday night, October 3.
Lombardo said on Tuesday afternoon that Danley was still a “person of interest” due to her close relationship to Paddock.
“She has probably the best insight into the mind of Paddock prior to him killing all these people,” Steve Gomez, a former FBI agent, told ABC News on Tuesday. “So they definitely want to hear from her what was going on in his life.”