MESQUITE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 others were wounded in a mass shooting at a country music festival along the Las Vegas strip. That astounding death toll has made this the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
Information is starting to trickle out about the shooter, identified by authorities as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. He took aim on the show from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. Country music star Jason Aldean was on stage for the last night of the three-day festival when the shots started. Edward Villanueva with the Josh Abbott Band had been on stage just hours earlier.
Paddock was found dead by police. Law enforcement officers were able to locate Paddock’s room due to the smoke detector. It was sounding in the hotel as a result of the amount of smoke created from the firing of Paddock’s automatic weapon, a former Las Vegas police officer explained.
Officers discovered at least 10 rifles inside of Paddock’s hotel room. He checked into the Mandalay Bay on Thursday using his real name and his own identification. He has spent the past few days gambling at the resort’s casino. Daylight images of the hotel now show the shattered window where Paddock was staying.
Officials stated that Paddock was a resident at a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. But he did have ties to the DFW area. He had previously lived in Mesquite, Texas as recently as 2010. He has previous addresses listed in both Mesquite and Grand Prairie dating as far back as 1998, and had a Texas driver’s license.
Lockheed Martin said that Paddock worked for a predecessor of the aerospace and defense company from 1985 until 1988.
Records show that Paddock then lived and worked as a manager and owner of a Mesquite, Texas apartment complex starting in 2000. People who knew him are shocked. “He was a nice guy. I mean, he was kind of quirky, but a nice guy,” said resident Priscilla McBride. They first met in 2005, when she moved into the complex.
McBride added that Paddock roamed the apartment property, casually talking to residents. He moved away several years ago, she said, and they had not seen each other since. “I thought, it couldn’t be,” she said. “You would have never thought he would be killing people. You just never know.”
After moving away, Paddock reportedly returned to North Texas often to visit his mother, who lived in the area until 2014. He did not have a close relationship with his father, Benjamin Paddock, who was an infamous 1960s bank robber and considered a suicidal psychopath.
Authorities have located Paddock’s companion, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, and are questioning her in hopes of determining a motive for this horrific attack. Officials stated that the shooting does not appear to be an act of terrorism. “We believe it’s a solo actor, a lone wolf,” said Clark County Sheriff Joeseph Lombardo.
Danley was out of the country at the time of the mass shooting.
Paddock did have some previous encounters with local police officers, but they did not appear to be serious, certainly nothing that elevated him onto federal law enforcement’s radar. He filed a lawsuit against the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Resort in 2012 in regards to some sort of injury on the premises, but the suit was dismissed. Paddock had no criminal record in Texas.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting on Monday, claiming that the perpetrator was “a soldier” who had converted to Islam months ago, without providing any supporting evidence. ISIS did not name Paddock, but said that he had “executed the operation in response to calls to target countries of the coalition” batting the extremist group in Iraq and Syria.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement early Monday morning that read, “The news of this senseless act of violence in Las Vegas overnight is heartbreaking. Cecelia and I are beyond saddened by the tremendous loss of life. Texas mourns and prays for the victims of this tragedy, and the entire Las Vegas community, in this time of unimaginable pain.”
President Donald Trump ordered that American flags be flown at half-staff in honor of the Las Vegas shooting victims.