Following the senseless Las Vegas massacre — which killed at least 59 people and left another 525 injured — carried out by Stephen Paddock, authorities are left with the insurmountable task of making sense of it all. Initial details in the hours after the shooting touched upon Paddock’s background and home life. More information is now trickling forth and paints a confusing picture of what could have motivated the 64-year-old Paddock (one of the oldest mass shooters in modern history) to commit such an atrocity. In other words, these new details yield clues and prompt more questions than answers.
A Vast Arsenal: Within Paddock’s hotel room and Mesquite retirement-community home, investigators discovered 42 firearms along with explosives and thousands of ammo rounds. Since Paddock didn’t have a criminal record, Nevada’s gun laws would allow him to amass such a collection, which included automatic rifles that may have been converted from semiautomatic weapons. His stash included “AR-15-style and AK-47-style rifles.”
A Recent Retiree Who Gambled Big: According to brother Eric Paddock, Stephen — a recently retired accountant — spent much of his time in Vegas, where he regularly dropped tens of thousands of dollars in a day. Eric told reporters that “he was a gambler, that was his job,” and their family wasn’t concerned about how Stephen “lived in a hotel room” for months at a time. In the days leading up to the massacre, Paddock conducted a number of large transactions, although it’s not known whether these were wins or losses. Investigators noted, however, that Paddock could have lost a million dollars in Vegas, and it wouldn’t have impacted his lifestyle, which rules out a spur-of-the-moment crime of passion after losing big at a casino.
A Quiet Multimillionaire Who Didn’t Flaunt His Wealth: Neighbors in Mesquite knew Paddock as a quiet man who referred to himself as a pro gambler. Although he was worth at least $2 million at the time of his death, Paddock’s unassuming presence — polos, khakis, and a simple car — didn’t attract attention, and he didn’t spend much time at home. That impression was aided by the fact that Paddock also owned properties in California, Florida, and Texas. In fact, the only detail of note for one Mesquite neighbor was that Paddock’s garage held an enormous safe, which may have been where he stored much of his arsenal.
A “Normal, Average” Guy, According To A Gun Shop Owner: Chris Mitchel of Dixie GunWorx awoke to news of the mass shooting and felt completely gutted upon remembering that he had sold a shotgun (which was not used in the Vegas massacre, since Paddock’s targets were hundreds of yards from his Mandalay Bay window) to Paddock. Yet as Mitchel recalled, Paddock seemed like “a normal customer” — sort of a “Joe Blow” type of guy — who shopped with them a few times but never set off alarm bells.
A Baffling Mystery Of Intent: While Paddock’s father sat atop the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list for nearly a decade (in connection with bank robberies), Stephen never ran afoul of the law until Sunday night in Vegas. Eric Paddock still can’t wrap his head around why his brother — who publicly held no political or religious affiliation — would commit mass murder. “There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” said Eric. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell.”
Investigators will continue to dig into Stephen Paddock’s homes and affairs for some time to come, but all clues from Paddock’s hotel room indicate a meticulously planned act of mass murder. His long-time companion, Marilou Danney, was also out of the country this weekend, which may prevent her from providing additional insight into why her partner plotted such a horrific crime. So for now, the mystery deepens, but questions shall continue.