Las Vegas shooter tried to buy tracer ammunition

Stephen Paddock tried to buy a special sort of ammunition before the Las Vegas shooting, that would have let him target specific victims on the ground. 

A law enforcement official told CNN that the 64-year-old shooter attended a gun show in Phoenix in recent weeks, where he tried to buy tracer ammunition. 

Tracer ammunition, which is legal, lights up as it’s fired, making a direct line to its target – allowing shooters to target specific objects in the dark.

However, the vendor that he bought from didn’t have any tracer ammunition so he left empty handed on that front. Instead, he bought other other ammunition at the show.

A law enforcement source told CNN that Stephen Paddock tried to buy tracer ammunition before the Mandalay Bay massacre, that would have let him target victims in the dark. Above, a view of soldiers at Ford Hood, Texas firing rounds with tracer ammunition in 2009

Because he didn’t have tracer ammunition, Paddock would have been left to fire indiscriminately at the crowd below. 

Paddock killed 58 in the massacre and wounded 489 before committing suicide. 

Paddock (pictured) tried to buy tracer ammunition from a vendor at a Phoenix gunshow in recent weeks but the vendor didn't have any to sell  

Paddock (pictured) tried to buy tracer ammunition from a vendor at a Phoenix gunshow in recent weeks but the vendor didn’t have any to sell  

They found 23 firearms in his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, which he used as a sniper’s nest to target the Route 91 Harvest Festival taking place across the street Sunday night. 

He had scopes fitted on some of the guns, but it’s unclear how useful those would have been in the dark. 

Twelve of the guns had so-called ‘bump stocks’ added to make them fully automatic. 

Police believe Paddock planned to make an escape due to the 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition that were found in his car, parked in the hotel parking lot.   

They found another 26 weapons in two of his homes in Nevada – one in Mesquite and one in Reno. 

Investigators combing through his background for clues remain stumped as to his motive.

WHERE DID HE GET THE REST? Gun sellers’ records only account for 14 of killer’s 49-firearm arsenal 



Located: Killer’s home of Mesquite, Nevada 

Purchases: Five firearms total, including a rifle sold on September 28 


Located: St. George, Utah 

Purchases: One shotgun bought in February 


Located: Las Vegas, Nevada 

Purchases: One rifle and one shotgun bought in the spring. 


Located: Verdi, Nevada 

Purchases: At least six guns


Located: Las Vegas, Nevada

Purchases: Unknown 


Located: Garland, Texas 

Purchases: Bought handguns in 2010 and 2011 – including a $1,500 model commonly used by the Secret Service  


Locations and purchases unknown


 Locations and purchases unknown 



23 weapons, including multiple rifles and a handgun 


At least 12 had bump stocks to turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons 


At least 19 firearms 


Several thousand rounds of ammunition 

Electronic devices 


Five handguns 

Two shotguns 

A ‘plethora’ of ammunition 

Electronic devices 


Ammonium nitrate


The profile developed so far is of a ‘disturbed and dangerous’ man who acquired an arsenal over decades, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said. But investigators have been frustrated to find that he lived a ‘secret life,’ Lombardo said, ‘much of which will never be fully understood.’

A former executive casino host at the Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa in Reno said Paddock had a ‘god complex’ and expected quick service without regard to how busy the staff was at the time.

‘He liked everybody to think that he was the guy,’ John Weinreich said. ‘He didn’t boast about anything he had or anything. It was just his demeanor. It was like, ‘I’m here. Don’t cross me. Don’t look at me too long.’ ‘

The weekend before the massacre, he rented a room through Airbnb at the 21-story Ogden condominiums in downtown Las Vegas and stayed there during a music festival below that included Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182.

‘Reasons that ran through Paddock’s mind is unknown, but it was directly at the same time as Life Is Beautiful,’ the sheriff said.

Police were reviewing video shot at the high-rise to check Paddock’s movements. His renting the condo was curious because, as a high-roller, he could have easily gotten a free room at one of the casino hotels on the Vegas Strip.

Police breached Paddock’s room inside the Mandalay Bay, which he had been using as a sniper’s nest, and found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound 

In early August, Paddock booked a room at Chicago’s 21-story Blackstone Hotel that overlooked the park where the Lollapalooza alternative music festival was being held, though there’s no evidence he actually stayed there, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed on the investigation.

The hotel confirmed a Stephen Paddock made a reservation but said he never checked in.

Lollapalooza draws hundreds of thousands of music fans every year to Grant Park.

Although Paddock killed himself as a SWAT team closed in, the sheriff said it appeared he had planned to survive and had an escape plan. Lombardo would not elaborate on the plan.

The coroner’s office in Las Vegas would not release details of its autopsy on Paddock. Some behavioral experts have wondered whether he suffered from some kind of brain abnormality or had a terminal illness that prompted him to lash out.


Country music star Jason Aldean was performing on stage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival when lone gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire on the 22,000 people gathered.

Sunday, about 10pm: Paddock smashes out two windows on the 32nd floor with a hammer-like implement and opens fire with his arsenal of at least 19 weapons – including fully automatic weapons.

10.08pm: First phone call to police that shots had been fired at the festival outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

10:25pm: Radio transmissions indicate Paddock may have stopped firing into the crowd at this moment. 

10:28pm: Police officers gathered at the Mandalay Bay report that Paddock has shot at a security guard. 

10.38pm: Police in Las Vegas say that they are ‘investigating reports of an active shooter’ near to the Mandalay Bay.

11.08pm: Las Vegas police confirm they have shut down a portion of The Strip

11.20pm: SWAT teams storm the 32nd floor room that Stephen Paddock was firing from. They gained entry using flashbangs designed to stun the shooter. Paddock fired through the door as SWAT teams were trying to breach the room. By the time they entered the room, he had shot himself dead. Seventy-two minutes elapsed from the first 911 call to Paddock being found dead.

11.20pm: Hundreds of people began being transported to hospitals in Las Vegas

11.32pm: McCarran International Airport announced it was diverting flights destined for the city.

11.34pm: Interstate 15 in and out of Las Vegas was shut down for a time.

11.56pm: Hospitals in Las Vegas said that at least two people were dead and 24 were injured of which 12 were critical.

Monday, 12.01am: Almost two hours after the first emergency call police confirmed that one suspect was ‘down’.

1.06am: The Southern California police department say that one of their officers is among the injured.

1.34am: At this point the death toll dramatic rises to 20 people injured and 100 injured.

1.54am: Police in Las Vegas says that two of their officers who were off-duty were among the dead.

2.13am: Investigators say that they are looking for the ‘roommate’ of the shooter – Marilou Danley and describe her as a person of interest.

3.30am: Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo announces that the death toll is now at least 50 dead and 200 injured – making this the deadliest shooting in US history

6.30am: Investigators say they have located Marilou Danley and say that she is overseas and is not longer a person of interest.

9.30am: Sheriff provides another update and says that the death toll is now in excess of 59 – including the shooter – and that 527 people are injured.

Tuesday 2pm: Sheriff reveals all but three victims have been identified and that Marilou Danley is a person of interest again