Las Vegas Shooter’s Life Comes Into Focus, But Not His Motive : The Two-Way : NPR
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Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET
Investigators in Las Vegas are sifting through evidence they’ve gathered from the homes of the man who sprayed a concert crowd with gunfire. They’ve begun to interview his girlfriend. They’ve learned quite a bit about Stephen Paddock’s past and preparation, but there is still no explanation for why he damaged and destroyed so many lives.
Ken Russell is a retired wildlife biologist who lives in the same neighborhood where the Las Vegas shooter lived, in the sunny retirement community of Sun City Mesquite. That the carnage on Sunday night was carried out by someone living there was a shock, he said.
“This is a quiet neighborhood,” Russell said on Monday, as he walked among palm trees, cacti and houses of stucco and tile. “All of them up here in Sun City are quiet. People are too old to make any commotion.”
That was the first surprise for investigators: that a 64-year-old man, an apparently wealthy retiree, a former postal worker, IRS agent and government auditor, would commit mass murder. He doesn’t fit the mass shooter profile.
Others in Mesquite spotted Paddock playing cards and video poker in the local casinos, betting and winning big, stopping in at the community center, or picking up coffee at Starbucks.
His younger brother also said he was puzzled by the rampage.
“He was a guy who took his little brother camping,” Eric Paddock told reporter Amy Green at NPR station WMFE in Orlando. “He was a guy who loved his women. He was a guy who played video poker. He was a guy who worked his ass off and made my family — helped make my family and my mother affluent. He was a guy who, you know, was nice to my kids.”
“That he did what he did, it just doesn’t compute,” he said.
The shooter made millions in investments in real estate, according to public records in California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.
And he loved gambling and guns. Paddock had elite status at bigger casinos in Las Vegas, according to industry sources who insisted on anonymity to protect their jobs. Police say he bought dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosives typically used for target shooting.
Three times earlier this year, he drove the 40 miles from Mesquite to St. George, Utah, to Dixie GunWorx, where gun seller Chris Michel found him more engaging than most.
“He came in and everything he wore, his demeanor, the person that he was, the openness, with his personality,” said Michel. “He was the guy next door that would, you know, mow people’s lawns for you. He would be the guy handing out ice cream cones on the corner when the bus comes to a stop to the kids. He would be the one that all of us would have taken to the family barbecue and invited. He just, he was an open guy to us.”
Paddock easily passed the background checks he needed to buy a shotgun from Michel and other weapons from other dealers. So far, police have revealed no evidence of illegal possession of firearms. Some neighbors in Nevada, Texas and Florida who’ve spoken with reporters, simply say Paddock and his girlfriend kept to themselves, and didn’t do anything alarming.
“He was very trusting to complete strangers,” said Sharon Judy, who lived next door to the home Paddock owned in Melbourne, Fla. She says he handed her a key, asking her to keep an eye on the house and borrow any tools she might be able to use.
“It’s really scary to think this is a guy next door,” she told NPR’s Pam Fessler. “Perfectly normal. On nobody’s radar. Nobody’s reason to think anything of any of it. And then all of a sudden he goes out and does something like this.”
Police are similarly puzzled. Clark County Sherriff Joe Lombardo said the shooting and the evidence gathered so far show meticulous planning by a disturbed and dangerous man.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said authorities had looked into more than 1,000 leads in the case. “While some of it has helped create a better profile into the madness of this subject, we still do not have a clear motive or reason why,” he said.