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Las Vegas gunman ‘a luntic full of hate’, investigators look for motive behind shooting

Paddock had, unknown to his family, acquired quite an arsenal — 42 firearms in all, and police found fertilizer in his car that could be used for making explosive.

world Updated: Oct 04, 2017 00:16 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Las Vegas shooter,Las Vegas shooting,Las Vegas mass shooting
The site of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting is seen outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, US on October 2.(REUTERS)

Investigators are still looking for the reason why Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old who was wealthy, liked gambling, owned and flew planes and largely kept to himself, opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers and killed 59 people and injured more than 500.

Paddock had had a few run-ins with the law but nothing that could point to the lurking mass-murderer in him. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters and Mayor Carolyn Goodman described the gunman as “a crazed lunatic full of hate”.

Police officers found Paddock dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the 32nd floor hotel room from where he had fired on people at the outdoor country music festival below on Sunday. They also found 23 firearms in the room, and 19 more at his home in a retirement community in nearby Mesquite.

Paddock had no known religious or political leanings – the Islamic State claimed he was one of its soldiers but gave no evidence and law enforcement has not found that a credible claim — and was not known for outbursts, according to relatives and neighbours.

“He was a gambler, that was his job,” Eric Paddock, one of his two brothers, told reporters on Monday in Orlando, Florida. “He was a wealthy guy, playing video poker, who went on cruises. He sent his mother cookies…huge, crazy boxes of cookies.” The two brothers last communicated by SMS after Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma.

He has said his brother was a successful real estate investor and owned several properties — “he was a multimillionaire…and helped me become affluent”. He had married and divorced twice and had no children.

Paddock was living with his girlfriend Marilou Danley, who police have said had no role in the shootings.

Their father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a serial bank-robber in the 1960s and was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list from 1969 to 1977. He escaped from prison in 1969 and lived on the run until 1978, when he was arrested in Oregon. He later became a used-car dealer and operated a bingo parlour.

The Paddock brothers didn’t see much of their father and were brought up their mother. “I didn’t know him, we didn’t know him,” said Eric Paddock.

“He was the least violent in the family during my childhood,” Patrick Paddock, the other brother, said of the shooter. “I have much more anger.”

Paddock had, unknown to his family, acquired quite an arsenal — 42 firearms in all, and police found fertilizer in his car that could be used for making explosives. Eric Paddock said he knew his brother had some weapons but he was not much of a hunter though he did have a hunting license.

“He had a couple of guns but they were all handguns, legal,” he told reporters. “He might have had one long gun, but he had them in a safe.” To CBS news, he said, “Where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that.”

Investigators have said the shooter was not carrying a machine gun, but the AP cited officials as saying he had two “bump-stocks” that could have turned a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic one.

First Published: Oct 04, 2017 00:16 IST