But, according to the Associated Press, nothing in his background suggests why he would have been on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino with at least 10 guns on Sunday night Oct. 1, raining an unparalleled slaughter upon an outdoor country music festival below.
“I can’t even make something up,” his bewildered brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters Monday. “There’s just nothing.”
At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in Paddock’s attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where country music star Jason Aldean was performing for more than 22,000 fans. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The 64-year-old gunman killed himself in the hotel room before authorities arrived.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, without offering evidence, but Aaron Rouse, the FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas, said investigators saw no connection to international terrorism.
Asked about a potential motive, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said he could not “get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.”
Public records offered no hint of financial distress or criminal history, and Eric Paddock, who spoke with reporters outside his home near Orlando, Florida, said he did not know of any religious or political affiliation his brother had. Stephen Paddock had not served in the military and was “not an avid gun guy at all,” he said.
“Where the hell did he get automatic weapons?” Eric Paddock said. “He’s a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite and drove down and gambled in Las Vegas.”
But Eric Paddock also told The Associated Press that he had not talked to his brother in six months and last heard from him in a text message sent after Hurricane Irma.
“It was like, ‘You ok?’ ‘Yeah.’” Eric Paddock recalled. “We talked when we had something to talk about.”
Eric Paddock also recalled another recent text showing “a picture that he won $40,000 on a slot machine. But that’s the way he played.”
Heavily armed police searched Paddock’s home in Mesquite, near the Arizona border about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, looking for clues Monday. Paddock lived there with his 62-year-old girlfriend, who authorities said was out of the country when the shooting happened. Eric Paddock described her as kindly and said she sometimes sent cookies to his mother.
Police also searched a two-bedroom home Paddock owned in a retirement community in Reno, 500 miles from Mesquite.
While Stephen Paddock appeared to have no criminal history, his father was a notorious bank robber, Eric Paddock confirmed to The Orlando Sentinel. Benjamin Hoskins Paddock tried to run down an FBI agent with his car in Las Vegas in 1960 and wound up on the agency’s most wanted list after escaping from a federal prison in Texas in 1968, when Stephen Paddock was a teen.
The oldest of four children, Paddock was 7 when his father was arrested for the robberies. A neighbor, Eva Price, took him swimming while FBI agents searched the family home.
She told the Tucson Citizen at the time: “We’re trying to keep Steve from knowing his father is held as a bank robber. I hardly know the family, but Steve is a nice boy. It’s a terrible thing.”
An FBI poster issued after the escape said Benjamin Hoskins Paddock had been “diagnosed as psychopathic” and should be considered “armed and very dangerous.” He’d been serving a 20-year sentence for a string of bank robberies in Phoenix.
The elder Paddock remained on the lam for nearly a decade, living under an assumed name in Oregon. Investigators found him in 1978 after he attracted publicity for opening the state’s first licensed bingo parlor. He died in 1998.
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