Stephen Craig Paddock, the 64-year-old white man who police say carried out the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history Sunday night on the Las Vegas Strip, is described as a divorced retiree who reportedly liked to gamble and moved frequently. But he wasn’t well-known to law enforcement.
“He was a guy. He gambled,” his brother Eric Paddock, who lives in Orlando, Fl., told reporters Monday. “He was nice to my kids when they went out to Vegas.”
Asked by reporters if Stephen Paddock had been agitated about politics, his brother replied: “No religious affiliation. No political affiliation. He just hung out,” adding that there was “not a bit” of a history of mental illness.
Police say that on Sunday night, Paddock broke out the window of a 32nd story hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and pulled the trigger, raining a hail of gunfire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival across the street. Witnesses described what followed as “non-stop gunfire” that sent people fleeing for their lives.
At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 wounded.
When a SWAT team forced open the door of Paddock’s room, police found him dead. He apparently committed suicide. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that more than 10 rifles were found in the room.
Speaking to The Orlando Sentinel, Eric Paddock said his brother had lived in Central Florida before moving to Nevada. He had some guns, but no automatic weapons, the brother said. “He’s never even drawn his gun before,” he said. He told CNN that his brother had owned “a couple of handguns.”
Records show Paddock had been married at least twice and had addresses in Texas, California, Florida and Nevada. He settled last in Mesquite, Nev., about 90 minutes from Las Vegas.
Paddock had a private pilot’s license and reportedly owned an airplane. He had a hunting and fishing license for Alaska. Lombardo said Paddock might have had a traffic citation — but had no criminal history in the state and that there were no immediate indications of such a history elsewhere.
The Palm Beach Post reports that a former neighbor of Paddock’s in Florida said that when the two first met in 2013 that Paddock told him he was a professional gambler as well as a real-estate speculator. Paddock also reportedly told the neighbor that he traveled back and forth to Las Vegas.
Paddock’s family also may have a dark past: Eric Paddock said his father held up multiple banks, broke out of prison and spent several years on the FBI’s most- wanted list. Speaking in an interview with CNN, he said sarcastically: “We’re all proud. My father was on the Top 10 list for a while.”
NPR has not independently confirmed that Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, the man from the Most Wanted poster, is the father of Stephen and Eric Paddock. A report in The Chicago Tribune from June 1969 states that a Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, then 42, was being added to the “10 most wanted men” list. It said the suspect had “once tried to run down an FBI agent with his car,” and that Paddock, “known as ‘Chrome Dome’ in underworld circles because of his practice of shaving his head, has been diagnosed as a ‘psychopath.’ ”
Eric Paddock said of his father: “I didn’t know him, we didn’t know him. He was in jail,” adding that his father had “broken out of jail.”
Other details about the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, are sketchy, but public records show that he got married in 1977 and again in 1985. Public records show he was divorced from his first wife in 1980.
In the hours after Sunday night’s shooting, authorities said they were looking for a woman named Marilou Danley who was described as Paddock’s companion. As we’ve reported:
“Early Monday, the department said, ‘we are confident we have located the female person of interest’ — but they later clarified that they believe she was not involved. Lombardo says she was found ‘out of the country’ and that Paddock had used some of her identification.”
FBI Las Vegas Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse said at a news conference that the bureau has “determined, to this point, no connection with an international terrorist group.” He was responding to reports that Paddock had recently converted to Islam and that the terrorist group Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the Las Vegas Strip attack.
A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department undersheriff called the attack an act of “domestic terrorism.”
Police executed a search warrant on Paddock’s house in Mesquite. Quinn Averett of the Mesquite Police Department described the residence as “a nice clean home.“’ He said some weapons and “maybe some ammunition” were found at the home, but said he could not give details on type or number.
At a news conference Monday morning, Averett described the neighborhood as “a retirement community. I believe 55 and older.”
Lombardo later said officials had learned of an additional property in northern Nevada and that the FBI was in the process of obtaining a warrant to search there.
The sheriff said Paddock checked into his room at the Mandalay on Thursday, but that they did not know what he had been doing in the days leading up to the shooting. He said Paddock had he brought the weapons to the hotel “on his own.”
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