Las Vegas shooter’s father was FBI’s most wanted

The father of the Las Vegas shooter was an FBI most-wanted bank robber and confidence man known as ‘Big Daddy,’ who was captured by in Las Vegas in 1960 – then escaped and lived on the run for a decade.

Stephen Paddock – the shooter who killed at least 50 in the Sunday night massacre – was just seven years old and living in Arizona when his father Benjamin Paddock was nabbed in Las Vegas by the FBI for a series of bank robberies in 1960.

At the time, Stephen’s mother tried desperately to shield her young son and his three siblings from the devastating news that their father was living a double life as a bank robber and con-man.

Mugshot: This was the FBI’s most wanted list’s image of Paddock after his escape from prison. His nicknames included ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Chromedome’ and he had a series of aliases



When FBI agents raided young Stephen’s home in Tucson after his father’s arrest, his mother took the boy swimming nearby.

‘We’re trying to keep Steve from knowing his father is held as a bank robber,’ a neighbour told the Tucson Daily Citizen on July 29, 1960. ‘I hardly know the family, but Steve is a nice boy. It’s a terrible thing.’

Benjamin’s friends and neighbors in Arizona were said to be shocked by his secret life of crime before his 1960 arrest.

Benjamin was known around Tucson as a big-hearted garbage disposal salesman who volunteered to as a ‘special deputy’ with the local police department, according to news reports at the time.

Armed and suicidal: Stephen Paddock took his own life after perpetrating the worst gun massacre in US history

Armed and suicidal: Stephen Paddock took his own life after perpetrating the worst gun massacre in US history

But he was also responsible for at least four armed bank robberies in a two-year span in the Phoenix area, stealing a total of $30,000. He was reportedly armed during the holdups and drove stolen cars.

The law finally caught up with Benjamin in Las Vegas in July 1960, hundreds of miles from his home in Tucson.

After FBI agents surrounded Benjamin in downtown Vegas, he jumped into his car and tried to run one of them over. But an agent shot through his windshield, forcing Benjamin to stop and surrender.

A loaded pistol, a blackjack, and cash were found in his car, according to a news report from the time.

Benjamin was sentenced to 20 years in jail for the bank robbery, confidence crime, forgery and auto theft – but he didn’t stay locked up for long.

He broke out of the Federal Correctional Institution at La Tuna, Texas on New Years’ Eve of 1968. His escape landed him a top spot on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, which described him as ‘armed and extremely dangerous.’

A Washington Post article in 1975 described his presence on the list as an embarrassment but he was removed from the list in 1977.

On the run: How the Tucson Citizen reported Stephen Paddock's father making the FBI's Top Ten most wanted list in 1969

On the run: How the Tucson Citizen reported Stephen Paddock’s father making the FBI’s Top Ten most wanted list in 1969

After breaking out of prison, Benjamin began using the alias ‘Benjamin Erickson’  and ‘Bruce Erickson’ – an amalgam of two of his children’s names.

He moved to Oregon where he restyled himself as the ‘Bingo King of the State.’

He was finally re-captured by the FBI in September 1978, after the feds found him while they were staking out a Springfield bingo center.

They had been tipped off by an article in a local newspaper profiling the big-hearted bingo operator who was giving the proceeds – at least so he said – to a women’s charity.

After an escape conviction, Benjamin appears to have been released on parole in April 1979.

His last listed address is in Springfield, Oregon and it is unclear if he has passed away. If alive, he would be 90 years old.

Described as a ‘glib, arrogant, smooth-talking ‘confidence man,’ the hulking and bald Benjamin went by a number of different aliases over the years – including the nicknames ‘Chromedome’ and ‘Old Baldy.’

A report on the FBI Wanted List described him as smoking cigars and cigarettes and enjoying steaks, desserts, gambling, TV and baseball.

Before his arrest for bank robbery, Benjamin was also vice president of a local ‘hot-rodder’ club in Tucson. He was known to hang around a young crowd at a local nightclub, where he went by the nickname ‘Big Daddy.’

Neighbors and friends told the local paper that there was no evidence of Benjamin’s double life of crime.

‘He seemed like the average middle-class businessman, devoted to his home and family,’ a neighbour told the Tucson Daily Citizen after his arrest.

Even the local sheriff was stunned by the arrest, having brought Benjamin onto the police force as a volunteer deputy.

‘It was quite a surprise,’ said Sherriff Waldon Burr to the Tucson Daily Citizen. ‘He bulged with sincerity.’