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Las Vegas mass shooting

Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock: millionaire retired accountant, high-stakes gambler, son of ‘psychopathic’ bank robber

Paddock, 64, had no criminal history and no known connection to Islamic State – but his father was a notorious and violent felon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 11:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 10:38pm

Stephen Craig Paddock, the retired accountant who smuggled an armoury’s worth of weapons into a swanky Las Vegas hotel and mowed down concertgoers from a 32nd storey window, was a wealthy high-stakes gambler.

The 64-year-old was a multimillionaire who owned two planes and a home in a tranquil golf course retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, 130km east of the gambling hub. According to a brother, he showed no sign he was poised to commit mass murder. But he had a link to notoriety – his father was a notorious bank robber, once on the FBI’s “10 most wanted” list and described as a psychopath.

Islamic State said the worst mass shooting in recent US history was perpetrated by one of its “soldiers”, claiming Paddock had converted to Islam in recent weeks and carried out the attack in its name.

But the FBI said it saw “no connection” between Paddock and international terror groups, and a stunned nation remained at a loss to understand the motive for the Sunday night massacre, which left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.

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Paddock was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, before a police Swat team burst into his room in the Mandalay Hotel, one of Las Vegas’ most recognisable landmarks.

His brother, Eric Paddock, said his family was in shock and could not understand what motivated his elder brother.

“He’s never drawn his gun, it makes no sense,” Paddock said from his doorstep in Orlando, Florida.

“Where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that,” he said. “He’s a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down and gambled in Las Vegas.”

“It’s like an asteroid just fell on top of our family,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We have no idea how this happened.”

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He said that Stephen was a multimillionaire who made much of his money investing in real estate.

He was not aware of his brother – who collected coins as a child – having any recent financial difficulties.

Eric Paddock said he thought his brother had a couple of handguns in a safe and possibly a rifle, but that was the extent of his weaponry.

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He said his brother was a peaceful man, who was a regular player of high-stakes video poker. “He sends me a text that says he won US$250,000 at the casino,” he said.

The two were last in touch last month, texting about power outages after Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida. Stephen recently sent a walking frame by mail to his 90-year-old mother.

But Eric Paddock also revealed that their father Patrick Benjamin Paddock, was a violent bank robber jailed in the early 1960s for a series of heists.

He escaped prison in 1968, landing on the FBI’s most wanted list, which described him as “extremely dangerous” and “psychopathic”.

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But he later escaped. An Oregon Supreme Court opinion from 1981 says FBI agents rearrested him on September 6, 1978, at his Bingo Centre in the small city of Springfield.

Despite the escape, Paddock was paroled the following year and returned to Oregon. He continued the bingo operation until authorities finally closed it in 1987 and charged him with racketeering.

Stephen Paddock, whose photographs showed as greying with a trimmed beard and moustache, was a former accountant and a licensed pilot with no criminal record, according to ABC News. He also had a hunting licence for Alaska, though it is not clear if or when he used it.

He owned two aeroplanes, NBC reported.

At least 10 weapons, including a number of long rifles, were recovered in his hotel room. Investigators found 18 firearms, explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition at his Mesquite home, a newly-built house on a cul-de-sac in a new, quiet neighbourhood focused on sunbelt retirees.

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Security officials said Paddock appeared to have been working alone, and his brother told US media he had no known religious affiliation.

“Nothing. No religious affiliation, no political affiliation, he just hung out,” Eric Paddock said.

Paddock’s former brother-in-law, Scott Brunoehler remembers him as smart and fun loving.

“He had a good job, he was a great guy actually,” Brunoehler said. “We used to go water skiing together.”

Brunoehler, 62, said he hadn’t spoken to Paddock since he divorced his sister.

“He seemed like a normal, good guy,” he said. “I’m still in shock.”

Brunoehler learned of the shooting on Sunday night when his friend called to say the daughter of another friend was wounded in the attack.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press