World

Motive for Las Vegas concert massacre baffles investigators

Gunman placed cameras in hotel room hallway before launching attack

Reuters

October 03, 2017

Click to show more
At a press conference Tuesday, Las Vegas Police presented video from Sunday night  3:58

LATEST

Law enforcement officials puzzled on Tuesday over what motivated a retiree with no criminal record to assemble an arsenal in a highrise Las Vegas hotel and rain gunfire onto an outdoor concert, killing at least 58 people.

ADVERTISEMENT

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, ended Sunday night's shooting spree, the deadliest in modern U.S. history, by killing himself. He left an arsenal of 47 guns but no clear clues as to why he staged the attack on a crowd of 20,000 from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel. More than 500 people were injured, some trampled.

Paddock fired on and off for nine to 11 minutes and unleashed a dozen or so volleys, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters Tuesday. He said the first call about shots fired came in at 10:08 p.m. Sunday and the gunfire stopped at 10:19 p.m.

McMahill also showed reporters video from police body-worn cameras recorded during the shooting.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, centre, responds to a question during a media briefing in Las Vegas on Tuesday. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/Associated Press)

Federal, state and local investigators have found no evidence that Paddock, 64, had even incidental contacts with foreign or domestic extremist groups, and reviews of his history show no underlying pattern of law breaking or hate speech, a senior U.S. homeland security official said on Tuesday.

"We cannot even rule out mental illness or some form of brain damage, although there's no evidence of that, either," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the probe.

Paddock set up cameras 

Paddock had set up multiple cameras around the hotel room from which he launched his attack, Lombardo said.

Two cameras were in the hotel hallway and one was in the door peephole.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters on Tuesday that investigators have identified all but three of the victims.

Police said they had no other suspects.

Lombardo said investigators wanted to talk with Paddock's girlfriend and live-in companion, Marilou Danley, 62, who he said is in the Philippines.

Investigators called Danley "a person of interest" and said the FBI was bringing her back to the U.S. on Wednesday for questioning. 

"We anticipate some information from her shortly," Lombardo said.

Las Vegas police officers patrol Tropicana Avenue near Las Vegas Boulevard after the mass shooting. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Paddock's brother, Eric, has described himself as mystified by the attack. "It just makes less sense the more we use any kind of reason to figure it out," Eric Paddock said in a text message on Tuesday. "I will bet any amount of money that they will not find any link to anything ... he did this completely by himself."

‚Äč"Marilou is absolutely the closest person to Steve," he wrote. "We are going to let her contact us if and when she decides she wants to."

He said the family did not plan to hold a funeral for his brother, who was not religious, saying it could attract unwanted attention.

He described his brother as a financially well-off enthusiast of video poker and cruises, with no history of mental health issues.

Click to show more
U.S. president calls Las Vegas shooter 'a demented man'  1:15

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that Paddock had been "a sick man, a demented man." 

Police said they had no other suspects.

At least 4 Canadians died

At least four Canadians are among the dead and six others were injured. The parents of 23-year-old B.C. man Jordan McIldoon said their son was killed at the festival. Jessica Klymchuk of Valleyview, Alta., was also killed. She had four school-age children and worked at a local Catholic school in the Alberta town. Calla Medig of Edmonton is also among the dead.

Heather Gooze, a Las Vegas bartender who was working at the festival, told CBC's Carol Off that she stayed with McIldoon after he was shot.

Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, B.C., was among those killed. (Family photo)

"I would never want myself or one of my family members to be left alone," Gooze told the As It Happens host. "I needed to make sure that they could identify him, that they knew who he was, that they knew he has a girlfriend who was here."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke to Trump yesterday to express condolences after the attack, "as well as expressing our direct condolences to the families of the Canadians lost in that attack, and the many people injured while they were on vacation."

Gun debate stirred

The attack stirred the fractious debate about gun ownership in the United States, which is protected by the Second Amendment to the constitution, and about how much that right should be subject to controls.

Democrats reiterated what is generally the party's stance, that legislative action is needed to reduce mass shootings. Republicans, who control the White House and both chambers of Congress, argue that restrictions on lawful gun ownership cannot deter criminal behaviour.

"We'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by," said Trump, who strongly supported gun rights during his presidential campaign.

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged Trump to bring together both major parties to devise a solution to gun violence.

"I am requesting the president to call us together, Democrats and Republicans, to come up with a reasonable solution," Schumer told journalists.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it was too soon after the attack to discuss legislative solutions to gun violence.

"It's particularly inappropriate to politicize an event like this, which just happened in the last day and a half," McConnell told journalists.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that Republican-backed legislation to make it easier to buy gun silencers, which is supported by the National Rifle Association, had not been scheduled for action on the House floor.

"I don't know when it's going to be scheduled," Ryan said. "We cannot let the actions of a single person define us as a country. It's not who we are."

Click to show more
Warning: Disturbing content | Las Vegas shooting as seen through social media posts at the ground level.  2:44

23 guns in Paddock's suite

The gunman shot and wounded a hotel security officer through the door of his two-room suite. The guard alerted police and the bloodshed ended after police swarming the hotel closed in and Paddock killed himself before police entered, authorities said.

Police said 23 guns were found in Paddock's suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Twelve of those weapons had devices attached that allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic fully automatic gunfire, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder told reporters Tuesday. The gun attachment is a device called a "bump stock" that is not widely sold. The stocks have been around for less than a decade, and Schneider said officials determined they were legal.

A search of Paddock's car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be formed into explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building that killed 168 people, Lombardo said.

Click to show more
Warning: Disturbing content | Concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival take cover as a gunman opens fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel and casino. Video is looped three times.  0:50

Police found another 19 firearms, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at Paddock's home in Mesquite, 145 kilometres northeast of Las Vegas.

Another seven guns were found at a property associated with Paddock in Reno, Nev. Snyder did not explain the discrepancy between the number of weapons found at those locations and the total of 47 she told reporters.

Chris Sullivan, the owner of Mesquite's Guns & Guitars shop, issued a statement confirming that Paddock was a customer who cleared background checks and said his business was co-operating with investigators.

"He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time," Sullivan said. He did not say how many or the kinds of weapons Paddock purchased there.

Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock bought firearms at this store in Mesquite, Nev. (Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

People run after gunfire sparks panic at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas. (David Becker/Getty Images)

Click to show more
Police release audio of SWAT team storming Vegas gunman's hotel room  0:29

Corrections

With files from Associated Press and CBC News
Start the day smarter
Get the CBC News Morning Brief, the essential news you need delivered to your inbox