Meticulous and murderous, Las Vegas gunman even installed spy cameras to detect police movements
Deadly attack was ‘pre-planned extensively’, say police, as photos are leaked showing killer Stephen Paddock’s body and his arsenal
The gunman who attacked a Las Vegas country music festival installed cameras outside his hotel room, including at least one in a room-service cart, to watch for the approach of police officers, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Tuesday.
Officials still haven’t offered a motive for why Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire at a concert across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Sunday night. Fifty-nine people were killed and more than 500 injured in the attack.
But additional information obtained by investigators revealed the extent to which Paddock apparently “pre-planned extensively” for the attack, Lombardo said.
One Mandalay Bay security guard, who had become separated from police, was shot in the leg through the door of Paddock’s 32nd-floor room when he approached, Lombardo said. The security guard escaped and police surrounded the room, eventually storming inside, where they discovered that Paddock had killed himself.
Lombardo said he was “absolutely” confident authorities will find out what set off Paddock, a high-stakes gambler and retired accountant.
Authorities released police body camera video that showed the chaos of the attack as officers tried to figure out the location of the shooter and shuttle people to safety. Amid sirens and volleys of gunfire, people yelled “they’re shooting right at us” while officers shouted “go that way!”
Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said the shooting spanned between nine and 11 minutes.
The cameras Paddock set up at the Mandalay Bay hotel casino were part of his extensive preparations that included stockpiling nearly two dozen guns in his room before opening fire on the concert below. McMahill said the cameras included one in the peephole and two in the hallway.
“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” Lombardo said.
Authorities discovered Paddock had at least 23 weapons in his hotel room, mostly rifles that were originally designed for military use but which have become popular among civilians. Paddock had been able to squeeze off a rapid stream of what sounded like fully automatic fire at the defenceless concertgoers at the outdoor Route 91 Harvest festival across the street.
Automatic weapons – which unleash multiple bullets with a single pull of the trigger – are more heavily regulated under US law than semi-automatic guns, which fire one bullet per trigger pull. But they are not banned outright.
At least one of Paddock’s rifles had been modified with a legal “bump stock”-style device that enables the shooter to rapidly fire off rounds without actually converting the rifle to a fully automatic weapon, one federal law enforcement source said.
Other weapons may have been converted to fully automatic fire and were still being examined, the source said.
“The fact that he had the type of weaponry and amount of weaponry in that room, it was pre-planned extensively,” Lombardo said, “and I’m pretty sure he evaluated everything that he did and his actions, which is troublesome.”
Lombardo said the investigation is proceeding cautiously in case criminal charges are warranted against someone else.
“This investigation is not ended with the demise of Mr Paddock,” the sheriff said. “Did this person get radicalised unbeknown to us? And we want to identify that source.”
Nineteen more guns were found at Paddock’s Mesquite home and seven at his Reno house.
Video shot outside the broken door of the room shows an assault-style rifle with a scope on a bipod. The sheriff said an internal investigation has been launched to find out how that footage was obtained.
Photos from inside the hotel room, showing Paddock’s body and his arsenal, were also leaked to US media. Some are reproduced here by the SCMP.
Some investigators turned their focus Tuesday from the shooter’s perch to the festival grounds where his victims fell.
A dozen investigators, most in FBI jackets and all wearing blue booties to avoid contaminating the scene, documented evidence at the site where gunfire rained down and country music gave way to screams of pain and terror.
“Shoes, baby strollers, chairs, sunglasses, purses. The whole field was just littered with things,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt after touring the site Monday. “There were bloodstains everywhere.”