Police have confirmed the name of the suspect in Sunday night’s Las Vegas shooting in which 58 people have been killed and at least 515 people are injured, with the death toll rising. The deadly incident is now believed to be the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
The 64-year-old shooter, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at a crowd of over 20,000 people attending the final day of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.
Witnesses described the shooting as “nonstop gunfire”, which suggests that automatic or semi-automatic weapons were used. Police responded to the scene on Sunday night. Upon entering the suspect’s room, they found that the shooter had killed himself.
Authorities believe that Paddock acted alone and after investigating the room, they found about 20 weapons – various rifles and handguns – scattered in his hotel room.
Police were seeking to question Paddock’s girlfriend, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, who is known to have lived with Paddock in Mesquite, Nevada. However, authorities do not believe that she was involved in the shooting as she was not in the country at the time.
As of now, Paddock’s motives remain unclear. According to the information that has since been revealed, Paddock did not have a criminal history, albeit a minor citation, meaning officials had no previous knowledge of him.
After news of the shooting made headlines, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. However, officials were not able to find any connection between the shooter and the extremist group, or any foreign terrorist organization. One senior official affirming, “The FBI stated there is no apparent tie to international terrorism […] Perhaps ISIS is just trying to take credit.”
According to the information we have on hand, Paddock had previously been employed as an accountant or auditor. At one point working at a company which later became Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors.
In a statement, the company explains, “Stephen Paddock worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin from 1985 until 1988 […] We are cooperating with authorities to answer questions that they may have about Mr. Paddock and his time with the company.”
In addition his day job, Paddock was also a licensed hunter and private pilot. He owned his own aircraft which he kept at the Mesquite Metro Airport in Texas from 2007 to 2009. His brother, Eric Paddock, expressed his shock and disbelief at his actions, stating that he was completely “dumbstruck”, by the news and compared it to being “crushed by an asteroid”. He also added: “we have no idea how or why this happened […] As far as we know, Steve was perfectly fine.”
Although the suspect himself was unknown to police prior to the shooting, his father is certainly a name that authorities were familiar with. According to the suspect’s brother, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock was an infamous bank robber who spent several years on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list.
In 1969, a wanted poster featuring his picture was circulating with the words “very dangerous criminal” emblazoned on it. The description in the poster also states that the elder Paddock is “Diagnosed as psychopathic […] Has carried firearms in commission of bank robberies. He reportedly has suicidal tendencies and should be considered armed and very dangerous.”
Officers have also obtained a search warrant which they used to enter the suspect’s home, using a robot to remove the garage door so as to enter the premises. After searching his home, police found additional weapons and ammunition.