Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock went to extraordinary lengths to cover his tracks as he planned his attack at the Mandalay Bay hotel, court documents revealed
Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock went to extraordinary lengths to cover his tracks as he meticulously planned his attack at the Mandalay Bay hotel, court documents have revealed.
Paddock, who killed 58 and injured more than 500 in the slaughter on October 1 last year, used a prepaid cellphone to remain anonymous and tried to destroy ‘digital media devices’ before the attack, search warrants show.
The 64-year-old, who opened fire from the window of his room on the 32nd floor of the hotel, is said to have planned ‘meticulously’ and ‘methodically’ before launching his assault.
The papers, obtained by the New York Times, say Paddock ‘destroyed or tried to hide digital media devices’ he used to plan the attack.
He also used a prepaid cellphone and used sophisticated measures to avoid being detected.
The FBI also say he tried to ‘thwart the eventual law enforcement investigation that would follow’ the attack, which may explain why investigators are yet to work out his motive.
Police found three phones in Paddock’s room after he shot himself dead, but have not been able to access one of them.
The cellphone, which has a Google operating system, cannot be unlocked.
‘If there were any information related to a potential conspiracy, it would be found within’ the locked phone, an FBI agent is reported to have said.
Investigators found 23 firearms, multiple 100-round magazines and huge quantities of ammunition in the Mandalay Bay room (pictured) after Paddock killed himself
Paddock was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. Two windows of the suit had been smashed out by gunfire
The court documents also say Paddock spent considerable time purchasing guns and ammunition for the attack, as well as suitcases and glass cutters which he used to open the window before raining bullets down on a country music festival below.
It comes after unsealed documents revealed that Paddock’s girlfriend told authorities they would probably find her fingerprints on bullets because she sometimes helped him load ammunition magazines.
Marilou Danley, 63, wasn’t arrested when she returned to the US from the Philippines days after the shooting, and cooperated with investigators, an FBI agent told a judge in the documents.
The agent says in the October 3 search warrant application that there was no evidence at that time of ‘criminal involvement’ by Danley, but that investigators had not ruled out the possibility.
The document says Danley ‘spontaneously’ blurted out that her fingerprints might be found on spent ammunition while she was providing a DNA sample to authorities.
The deserted aftermath of the Route 91 Harvest Festival is seen two days after the shooting. Fifty-eight people died and hundreds were injured in the shooting
Paddock’s girlfriend Marilou Danley, 63, wasn’t arrested when she returned to the US from the Philippines days after the shooting
Investigators also noticed that Danley, who was in the Philippines at the time, set her Facebook account to private at 12.30am Las Vegas time on October 2 and deleted the account by 2.46am.
The shooting occurred around 10pm on October 1, and Danley’s named circulated on police radio in the aftermath as a person of interest, which may have spurred online vigilantes to harass her.
Also revealed in the documents was a bizarre email exchange that Paddock appeared to have faked with himself.
The documents said Paddock had received an email from a Gmail account in July encouraging him to try an AR-style rifle before buying one.
It said, ‘we have huge selection’ in the Las Vegas area.
Paddock wrote back that he wanted to try several scopes and different types of ammunition. An email in response suggested trying a bump stock on the rifle with a 100-round magazine.
Paddock’s email address and the Gmail address had similar names. Investigators say they suspect he may have been emailing himself, but couldn’t figure out why.
Investigators have said that Paddock meticulously planned his attack and intentionally concealed his actions.
He modified semi-automatic rifles to shoot rapidly using bump stocks, set up cameras to watch for police outside his hotel room and wounded a security guard in the hotel hallway.
Investigators found no evidence that Paddock had help carrying out the attack.
Paddock’s three-bedroom house in a retirement community in the city of Mesquite was searched twice – first by police and FBI agents in the hours immediately after Paddock was identified as the shooter.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo later said that October 2 search found 19 guns and several pounds of potentially explosive materials.
The FBI returned to the house a week later for what officials called ‘redocumenting and rechecking.’
Investigators stand outside the home of Stephen Paddock on October 2. The search found 19 guns and several pounds of potentially explosive materials, police said
Officers also raided Paddock’s hotel suite where he opened fire and searched his vehicle after it was found parked in the casino parking structure.
Lombardo said several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a material used to make explosives, was found in the car.
Other searches were conducted at a house the gunman owned in Reno where agents found a red SUV. A neighbor reported that Paddock kept a safe the size of a refrigerator in the garage.
FBI agents also returned to that house, on October 10, after local police determined someone had broken in days earlier.
A Nevada judge is due to hear arguments Tuesday about whether Las Vegas police search warrant documents should remain sealed.
LAS VEGAS SHOOTING VICTIMS’ LAWYER BLASTS MANDALAY BAY
The lawyer representing victims of the Las Vegas shooting and their families has blasted a recent statement from the Mandalay Bay.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel, an attorney representing several victims of the massacre, blasted the Mandalay Bay’s statement that it had more than 10 ‘normal interactions’ with the shooter Stephen Paddock.
Paddock killed 58 and injured hundreds in the October 1 shooting from the window of a Mandalay suite.
Staff at the Mandalay ‘had contact with Paddock or entered his suite more than 10 times over the course of his stay, including the three days leading up to October 1’ the statement said, adding that the interactions were all ‘normal in nature’.
‘Their little paragraph of “we have normal interaction” leaves a lot out,’ Tuegel told Fox News.
‘I would like to know what they were classifying or defining as “normal behavior”.’
Tuegel said she wants to know ‘what else these employees have to say about what they saw and heard in the days leading up to the shooting, and what they may have failed to see.’
‘Why didn’t someone say something when he brought all these bags [with weapons] up?’ Tuegel asked, adding it’s ‘hard to believe the amount of ammunition and weapons in the room and no one saw or picked up on anything.’
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Paddock carried more than ten suitcases into his hotel suite during his preparation for the shooting.
Investigators found 23 firearms, multiple 100-round magazines and huge quantities of ammunition in the room after Paddock apparently killed himself.