Guest columnist Mark Wilkins has some insight into this important story.
The Latest on the Las Vegas Massacre Investigation
By Mark Wilkins
Imagine you are at a concert with thousands of other people. The headliner for the night is performing. Suddenly you hear what sounds like fireworks. You think to yourself, oh, that’s a nice touch, fireworks for the final act. Then you notice people running. More firecracker noises happen and a couple of people in the crowd fall down. Then you see the head of a person about 10 feet behind you explode. You realize these are not firecrackers but gunshots!
This is what it might have been like for someone in the crowd of 22,000 that attended a Country Music Festival Concert Sunday Night as a man shot bullets semi-automatic rifles at them from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. There were off duty police officers at the concert but they couldn’t return fire because weapons were not allowed at the concert.
When the shooting was over more than 50 people lay dead and over 500 lay injured. It is now considered the worst mass shooting in U.S. History. Transport of the victims began immediately. Las Vegas has a tier 1 Trauma center within a few miles of the shooting. Many victims were driven there in the cars of concert goers as well as by ambulance. Many of the injured walked to nearby Tropicana Hotel to seek assistance.
Within the first minute from the time the shooting began, a police officer identified where the shots were coming from and radioed the information to dispatch. Within five minutes from the time the shooting began Officers were coming the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel searching for the room where the shots were coming from. An officer on the 31st floor was able to identify that the shots were coming from the floor above him. Within six minutes from the time the shooting began, officers had identified the room where the shooting was coming from and were preparing to breach the door. Then the shooting stopped. Officers waited another hour before breaching the door.
When Las Vegas PD SWAT officers entered the hotel room where the shots came from they found 64 year old Stephen Paddock dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. They found 23 guns, lots of spent ammunition and dozens of bullet magazines both empty and full. They also saw notes next to the open window and gun perch with calculations on elevation, angle and bullet speed. These were shooting directions which allowed Paddock to maximize his kills.
Further investigation revealed that he lived in nearby Mesquite Nevada with a female, 62 year old Marilou Danley. She was in the Philippines and returned to the U.S. for questioning. Police are seeking her as a person of interest. She told the FBI that she had no clue about the attack and that he sent her out of the country and then sent her $100.000. She thought it was his way of breaking up with her.
Paddock’s car, which was parked on the hotel property, contained ammonia nitrate half of the critical components to making a bomb which can bring down a building like the one used in the Oklahoma City Bombing. It was originally thought that Paddock was attempting to bring down the building but ran out of time. It was later discovered that the ammonia nitrate, if a bullet hit it, would cause the car to explode like a bomb. It is thought that the car was part of Paddock’s escape plan with catastrophic results if he was fired upon by police.
It is now thought that Paddock spent a long time planning the attack. Bullet holes in a fuel tank at nearby McCarren airport demonstrate that he may have been trying to start a fire there as well. Investigators found that he also rented several condos overlooking a rock concert in another part of Las Vegas the week before his attack at the Country music Festival across from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. A search of Paddock’s residence yielded 19 more guns, explosives and another computer. It. Authorities will be looking at that computer to help figure out a motive.
ISIS claimed credit for the shooting stating that “A soldier of the Islamic State executed concertgoers. No ties have been found to link Paddock with international terrorist organizations or domestic terror organizations either. In the past few months, ISIS has claimed credit for everything from Hurricanes Harvey, Iris and Maria as well as the earthquake in Mexico and the Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless in Orange and Los Angeles Counties in California.
Paddock was retired and purchased the home in a retirement community in Mesquite in 2015. Danley moved in with him in January 2017. Paddock was not on any domestic terrorist lists. A criminal records search revealed that he had a citation several years ago but other than that he was unknown to most police departments.
Paddock worked as an accountant who lived in 27 different places in several different during his adult lifetime. He owned some buildings with his mother in Florida and was a licensed pilot who owned 2 airplanes. He was married and separated from his wife, possibly going through a divorce although no records of it have been found so far. Department of Treasury Records show that Paddock had some successful gambling transactions at Las Vegas casinos over the last few weeks that earned him tens of thousands of dollars. Casinos have to file forms with the IRS whenever someone wins over $10,000 or more in one sitting. Paddock’s father, Benjamin Paddock was a notorious bank robber in the 1960’s who was on the FBI Most Wanted list.
Paddock’s brother Eric told reporters that Paddock had no political affiliations. He was not involved with any terror groups. He said “He must’ve just snapped”. At this point in the investigation Paddock’s brother’s explanation is as good as any of the other ones out there because at this point, no one knows what caused Paddock to bring 23 semi-automatic rifles into a hotel room and begin shooting at a crowd across the street.
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