Las Vegas shooting: Marilou Danley, gunman’s girlfriend, says she had no warning about massacre
“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man,” Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, said in a statement read by her attorney. “He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”
Danley’s comments came after she had become a key figure in the investigation into why Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant, opened fire from a 32nd floor hotel room above the Las Vegas Strip. When the gunfire erupted, Danley was out of the country, and she only returned to Los Angeles late Tuesday night before being interviewed by FBI agents on Wednesday. Investigators have been unable to identify a motive so far, and Danley’s statement, released after she spoke with the FBI, suggested she was as stunned as anyone by what happened.
Danley said Wednesday she had traveled to the Philippines because Paddock bought her a ticket to visit family there. Paddock then wired her money, she said, saying it was meant to help purchase a home for Danley and her family.
“I was grateful, but honestly, I was worried, that first, the unexpected trip home, and then the money, was a way of breaking up with me,” she said her statement, which was read aloud by her attorney. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”
Authorities have described a chilling level of preparation in Paddock’s attack, saying he brought a small arsenal into a two-room suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino before raining bullets on the thousands of concertgoers far below. Paddock, who killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others, also set up cameras so he could monitor the approach by police. As SWAT officers closed in, he turned a gun on himself.
“I am devastated by the deaths and injuries that have occurred and my prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those who have been hurt by these awful events,” Danley said.
Danley is considered a critical witness in trying to decipher Paddock’s motive, according to a person familiar with the probe. Police have described her as a “person of interest,” though they have not suggested that she is considered an accomplice or involved in any way.
Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas division, declined to comment about Danley’s location and whether she was still considered a person of interest Wednesday night. She was not in federal custody, he said.
Speaking at a news briefing Wednesday night, Rouse said the investigation would take time, but he pledged that the bureau would get it right.
“We will get to the bottom of this no matter how long it takes,” Rouse said, adding that the FBI had deployed more than 100 personnel across the country to assist with the investigation.
While investigators still do not yet know what set Paddock off, they found evidence that he intended to inflict considerable damage, including thousands of rounds of ammunition in his room that was not fired, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at the same news briefing Wednesday.
Lombardo said detectives “keyed on” Paddock’s gun purchases in the two years before the attack and were exploring whether there was some event there, but were still investigating.
“Anything that would indicate this individual’s trigger point and would cause him to do such harm, we haven’t understood it yet,” Lombardo said.
Police have repeatedly said Paddock was the sole gunman, but they are still looking to see if he had any accomplices or help.
Lombardo said “you’ve got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point,” given the amount of preparation and gear involved, but he said investigators had not identified any particular person.
Investigators also found evidence Paddock might have intended to escape the attack alive, Lombardo said, though he declined to say what that evidence was. Lombardo also said that a piece of paper was found in Paddock’s room, but said it was not a suicide note.
Lombardo also revised the number injured in the attack to 489, lower than a previous estimate offered by police. He said 317 had been discharged from the hospital. During the briefing, Lombardo laid out a detailed timeline of the incident, describing how officers heard the shots, closed in on Paddock’s suite and – 75-minutes later — breached the door to find Paddock dead.
Authorities expressed bafflement at what could have motivated the rampage. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said Wednesday he is surprised they have not found evidence pointing to the gunman’s motive yet.
“There’s all kinds of things that surprise us in each one of these events,” McCabe told CNBC. “This individual and this attack didn’t leave the sort of immediately accessible thumbprints that you find on some mass casualty attacks….We look for actual indicators of affiliation, of motive, of intent, and so far we’re not there. We don’t have those sort of indicators.”
McCabe said agents have been reconstructing “the life, the behavior, the pattern of activity of this individual and anyone and everyone who may have crossed his path in the days and the weeks leading up to this horrific event.”