Vegas gunman’s ‘secret life’ slowing search for motive – World

 In U.S.

Those seeking to know the motive of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock have had little more to chase than hints and shadows.

Paddock led such a low-key, private life that no one seemed to know him well, and those who did had no sense he was capable of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Other mass killers have left behind a trail of plain-sight clues that help investigators quickly understand what drove them to violence. But Paddock, 64, had nearly no close friends, social media presence or other clear connections to the world.

Even the No. 2 official in the FBI said Wednesday he was surprised investigators have not uncovered more about why a man with no obvious criminal record would cause so much bloodshed.

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Paddock, left, wired $100,000 US to his girlfriend Marilou Danley, right, shortly before his deadly rampage. (Eric Paddock via AP, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

“There’s all kinds of things that surprise us in each one of these events. That’s the one in this one, and we are not there yet,” FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Working with what little they know, investigators have zeroed in on Paddock’s weapon-buying binge a year before he gunned down 58 people Sunday at a country music festival from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay casino resort before killing himself. At least four Canadians are among the dead and six others were wounded. 

Many of Paddock’s weapons were fitted with so-called bump stocks — attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire as rapidly as fully automatic weapons, which are subject to much stricter regulation in the United States.

In a rare concession to gun control advocates, the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday said such attachments need tougher regulation. 

The powerful gun lobby group called on federal authorities to “to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” it said.

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A so-called bump stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen in an Orem, Utah, gunshop on Oct. 4. (George Frey/Reuters)

Plan to escape

Investigators wonder if Paddock had some sort of mental break that drove him to start making plans for mass murder.

They also know, though not why, he rented an apartment in a Las Vegas highrise over another music festival the weekend before the massacre.

They know he was a major gambler and are looking at related records, though even in public casinos he played the private game of video poker.

They know he had a plan to survive the shooting and try to escape, though would not say how.

“This individual and this attack didn’t leave the sort of immediately accessible thumbprints that you find on some mass casualty attacks,” McCabe said. “Putting aside the somewhat dubious claims of responsibility that we see in each one of these instances, 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.”

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference Wednesday night that Paddock had a stockpile of weapons, explosive materials and a meticulous plan. Lombardo said those factors have led him to believe the shooter might have had some help — though he cautioned that investigators don’t yet know if that’s the case or who it might be.

Lombardo said investigators have been compiling a profile of a man he called “disturbed and dangerous.” 

He said Paddock spent decades acquiring weapons and ammunition, and “living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood.” 

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