The Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 civilians and injured hundreds more before killing himself on Sunday had originally hoped to survive his shooting and flee justice – and likely had an accomplice, it has emerged.
Stephen Paddock, 64, had planned to escape the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel after firing on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo revealed in a press conference Wednesday.
Lombardo declined to reveal why he believed that Paddock had an exit planned, but said he was confident in the claim – and said that his scheme was so elaborate that he would have to be a ‘super hero’ to pull it off alone.
The sheriff also revealed that the elaborate system of three cameras that Paddock had set up to spy on the hall outside his room was not recording.
And he noted that the count of injured people was lower than initially stated – 489, not 527 – due to confusion at hospitals.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, Wedneday
It wasn’t clear why Lombardo thought that Paddock had expected to survive his insane assault, which is the worst mass shooting in US history.
But he said that he believed Paddock had ceased firing on the terrified civilians in order to figure out how he could escape, as SWAT teams closed in on his room.
He also noted that Paddock’s car contained two 50lbs of the explosive Tannerite – in two 20lb tins and 10 1lb tins – as well as 1,600 rounds of ammunition.
A journalist in the press pool asked whether Paddock had planned to use the vehicle to escape, but Lombardo declined to answer.
Lombardo also said he thought it was likely that Paddock had an accomplice, given the 23 rifles and piles of magazines in the room, the additional firearms in Paddock’s homes, and the electronic devices recovered from his Mesquite house.
Paddock would have had to have been a ‘super hero’ to pull it off, Lombardo said, before catching himself for using the word ‘hero’ to refer to a mass murderer.
‘Look at the weapon obtaining, the amounts of Tannerite available – do you think this was accomplished all on his own?’ he said. ‘You’ve gotta make that assumption.
‘Put two and two together: Another residence in Reno with firearms and electronics associated. Another place in Mesquite.
‘We know he had a girlfriend – do you think this was all self-facing? Do you think he never said anything to anyone? Come on, folks.’
Marilou Danley, Paddock’s 62-year-old girlfriend, landed back in the US from the Philippines on Tuesday and has spoken to the FBI.
She said in a statement today through her lawyer that she had no idea of Paddock’s deranged plans.
Aaron Rouse, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, said that she was not in FBI custody and that she had been helping with their inquiries.
He also said there was no evidence ‘to this point’ that suggests terrorism, but that ‘this is an ongoing investigation… we’re not going to close down any doors.’
Lombardo also said that SWAT teams spotted two cameras on a room service cart outside Paddock’s suite, and one in the peephole of a door.
There was also a baby monitor camera in the family area of the hotel room, he said. None of them were recording.
However, it’s believed that they may have provided Paddock with a live view of the police as they advanced on his position.
He said that Paddock’s attempts to flee had probably begun when he spotted a security guard – who had been investigating the gunfire separate from the police – approaching his room on one of the cameras.
Paddock then fired ‘well over 200 rounds’ through the door into the hallway – miraculously only injuring the courageous guard, he said.
Even more incredibly, when police arrived 60 seconds later, Lombardo said, the guard not only gave them his master key and information, he also helped clear nearby rooms of bystanders.
He only sought medical attention when ordered to leave by the police, Lombardo said.