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Las Vegas shooting: gunman Stephen Paddock may have ‘had help’ says sheriff

Police say Paddock rented a room overlooking another music festival and also speculated that he could have 'had help'

5 October 2017, 10:15am
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (left) responds to a question as Aaron Rouse, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Las Vegas Division, looks on (Photo: Newsweek)
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (left) responds to a question as Aaron Rouse, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Las Vegas Division, looks on (Photo: Newsweek)
Las Vegas police have said there was evidence gunman Stephen Paddock intended to survive and escape his deadly attack at a country music festival on Sunday. They also revealed that he rented an apartment overlooking another music festival, which took place in the city the previous weekend.

The disclosures were among several new details revealed by Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who speculated that the man believed responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history may have had assistance.

Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock (Photo: Sky News)
Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock (Photo: Sky News)
 “Do you think this was all accomplished on his own?” Lombardo asked, noting the arsenal of weapons the shooter amassed, and the discovery of explosives in his car. “You’ve got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point”, he added.

Lombardo said that Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree and gambler, rented a luxury room through Airbnb overlooking the Life is Beautiful music festival, another Las Vegas festival which occurred the week before the Route 91 Harvest music festival he eventually targeted.

He also said he had seen evidence that Paddock may have intended to survive his killing spree from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, which he used as a base for the attack. He did not, however, say what the evidence was.

Lombardo’s remarks were made at press conference, which raised as many questions as it answered and suggested that, 72 hours after the attack, after an extensive interview with Paddock’s girlfriend Marilou Danley, and examining his computers, investigators remain genuinely baffled regarding his motives.

The killing spree resulted in 58 victims and injured at least 489 people. The updated casualty numbers were the most recent given by authorities on Wednesday night.

Lombardo had previously said law enforcement believed Paddock had perpetrated “a solo act”. But on Wednesday, he appeared to change his position. His speculation about the possibility Paddock was aided came after an exchange in which he conceded investigators had not been able to identify any “person of interest” other than Danley.

He said investigators were, however, pressing to find others who may have been involved. It was possible that Paddock was “a super guy” who was “working out all of this on his own”, Lombardo said. But he added: “It would be hard for me to believe that.”

“Theories are great and everyone can have a theory,” said Aaron Rouse, who runs the bureau’s Las Vegas division, and took to the lectern immediately after the sheriff’s comments. “But I need to deal with facts. The sheriff needs to deal with facts.” He added: “He’s not going to make assumptions. I’m not going to make assumptions.”

Rouse said the FBI was working with “a number of theories”, but was not prepared to publicise them. Rouse was considerably more cautious in his remarks than the sheriff, refusing to reveal what Danley said after she returned to the US on Wednesday, from the Philippines, to be questioned by agents. The FBI agent declined even to say whether Danley remains “a person of interest”.

Danley, 62, released a statement after being interviewed by FBI agents, saying she had no idea of the massacre her partner was plotting when he sent her abroad to be with her family.

 “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” she said in a statement read out by her lawyer. “He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”

Lombardo, in another surprising remark, appeared to cast doubt over those comments when he said at the press conference: “Any person put in her situation would probably answer in the same way.”

In addition to the sheriff’s speculation, there were also a handful of previously undisclosed facts revealed at the press conference, including new details about events in the days and hours leading up to the shooting.

With regards to the reserved Airbnb room at the Ogden luxury apartment, which overlooked the site of the Life is Beautiful festival, the Sheriff said he did not know “what was in his mind”.

“Was he doing pre-surveillance?” he said. “We don’t know yet.”

Lombardo also revealed the crucial role played by a security guard, who helped locate Paddock, on the 32nd floor, just over 10 minutes after he began shooting at concertgoers. Paddock, who had set-up multiple cameras outside his room, to monitor the corridor, shot as many as 200 rounds through the door, injuring the guard.

Swat teams did not enter the suite Paddock was using for another hour, but Lombardo stressed that there were no unintended delays. “It was purposeful,” he said, explaining that police decided to take their time to clear surrounding rooms of guests when they realized Paddock had stopped firing.

Upon entering the room, they discovered Paddock had killed himself. Lombardo also said they discovered several containers of explosives and 1,600 rounds of additional ammunition in his car.

Lombardo described Paddock, who he revealed was gambling at the casino hours before the attack, as a “disturbed and dangerous” man who had apparently led a “secret life” that left few clues about his actions.

He confirmed that investigators were exploring whether there was some incident in October 2016 that would explain why, in the year that followed, he purchased some 33 new weapons.