What we still don’t know about the Las Vegas shooting
Authorities said Stephen Paddock, 64, had secreted nearly two dozen guns in his two-room suite on the 32nd floor. He also had stacks of ammunition, cameras, drills and computers as he methodically planned and carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
But the first shots Paddock fired were not aimed at the country music festival far below. Instead, police now say, six minutes before Paddock aimed his guns at the concertgoers, he shot a hotel security guard who happened into his hallway on an unrelated call.
The new detail, which contradicts a significant element of the earlier timeline offered by police in the days since the shooting, raises additional questions about the law enforcement response to the massacre and why officers took as long as they did to arrive at Paddock’s gunshot-riddled door.
These questions come as investigators, who have scoured Paddock’s life in search of a motive since the Oct. 1 rampage, remain unable to explain why the avid gambler killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before shooting himself in the head.
“I’m frustrated,” Joseph Lombardo, the Las Vegas sheriff, said at a news briefing Monday night. “This individual purposefully hid his actions leading up to this event and it is difficult for us to find answers for those actions.”
Lombardo said that police are still unable to explain why the gunman stopped firing from his suite after 10 minutes of sustained volleys into the concert crowd.
Police previously said that the guard, Jesus Campos, was wounded during the shooting, and Lombardo had said that while he did not know for sure, he thought that Paddock saw Campos approaching and “was in fear that he was about to be breached.”
Information released immediately after shootings or other mass-casualty attacks is often not firm while officials sift through reports and rumors in search of facts; it often takes time, for example, to dispel reports of multiple shooters or secondary attacks.
In Las Vegas, though, details released by law enforcement have remained remarkably fluid, illustrated by the revelation Monday — eight days after the shooting — that the guard was injured before, not during, the concert shooting.
The new detail raises still more questions, including when reports of the initial shots were relayed to others before and during the massacre to follow. Lombardo said Campos “immediately” notified hotel security after being shot, and he said police — who were searching the hotel for the source of the gunfire — did not know Campos had been hit until emerging on the 32nd floor.
It was not clear whether hotel security officials told police that Campos had been shot and whether that information was then relayed to officers searching the hotel — potentially critical information as the shooting unfolded. An MGM spokeswoman expressed doubts about the timeline offered by Lombardo.
“As evidenced by law enforcement briefings over the past week, many facts are still unverified and continue to change as events are under review,” Debra DeShong, the spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday night. “We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated” publicly, she said, “and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.”
DeShong said “it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time on what remains an open matter for law enforcement.”
Las Vegas police did not respond to a list of questions regarding the timeline and declined to make Lombardo available for an interview.
In his briefing, Lombardo called the updated timeline a “minute change” that he said emerged during the investigation.
“As I have conveyed to you from the very beginning, in your zest for information, in my zest to ensure the public safety, the calming of their minds, is some things are going to change,” Lombardo told reporters.