Police believe Las Vegas gunman may have had help

Shooter’s girlfriend says he gave no warning of massacre that left 58 concert-goers dead

Audio from police scanners highlights the pandemonium during the Las vegas shootings in which at least 59 people were killed and 527 injured. An eyewitness describes his experience from the crowd. Video: Suzanne Lynch/Irish Times video

 

Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock may have planned to escape after he killed 58 people in a gun rampage on Sunday, police have said, as the search continued for a motive behind the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

Some 1,600 rounds of ammunition were found in Paddock’s car parked at the hotel, as well as several containers containing 27kg of the explosive Tannerite, police confirmed.

Police also believe that the 64-year-old former accountant may have had an accomplice.

Asked if he thought that Paddock acted alone, Las Vegas sheriff Joseph Lombardo said: “You’ve got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point.”

Stephen Paddock, who carried out the massacre from the Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday. Photograph: Eric Paddock/AP
Stephen Paddock, who carried out the massacre from the Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday. Photograph: Eric Paddock/AP

NBC reported that the Paddock had researched outdoor concert venues in other cities including Chicago and Boston in recent months. Paddock booked a room in Chicago to coincide with the Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park, Chicago, which took place between August 3rd and August 6th, the network reported, but did not ultimately travel to the city.

As further details of the investigation emerged, the shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, said she had no advance knowledge that Paddock was planning the attack on Sunday which left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured.

In a statement issued through the lawyer, the 62-year-old Australian citizen said it never occurred to her that he was planning violence against anyone. She said she believed that he bought her a flight to the Philippines and wired money because he was breaking up with her.

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” she said in the statement.

“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man. I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him. It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”

Marilou Danley whose partner carried out a shooting rampage at a Las Vegas concert on Sunday night. Photograph: Reuters
Marilou Danley whose partner carried out a shooting rampage at a Las Vegas concert on Sunday night. Photograph: Reuters

Ms Danley was questioned by the FBI in Los Angeles on Wednesday after returning to the US from the Philippines. In her statement, she said she had returned to the US voluntarily “because I know that the FBI and the Las Vegas police department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them”.

‘Bump stocks’

Meanwhile, senior Republicans in Congress appeared to indicate a willingness to consider new legislation outlawing so-called “bump stocks” – devices that are attached to semi-automatic weapons to mimic the capabilities of fully automatic weapons. Twelve of the weapons found in Paddock’s hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel were fitted with such devices.

In an interview on Thursday, House speaker Paul Ryan, a strong supporter of gun rights, said he had never heard of the devices before this week’s attacks. “I think we’re quickly coming up to speed with what this is,” Mr Ryan said.

“Fully automatic weapons have been banned for a long time,” he said. “Apparently, this allows you to take a semi-automatic and turn it into a fully automatic . . . clearly that’s something we need to look into.”

The devices are sold out or temporarily unavailable from all the largest gun and ammunition retailers in the US as demand rises ahead of a potential ban.

Walmart said in a statement that the products never should have been sold on its site, that they were sold by third-party sellers, and they were “immediately removed” because they violated the company’s prohibited items policy.

In a press conference on Wednesday evening, Mr Lombardo gave further details on the events of Sunday night. He said that Paddock had rented a room at the Ogden hotel in downtown Las Vegas at the same time as the Life is Beautiful music festival, which took place between September 22nd and 24th, although he refused to speculate if the shooter was “scoping out” the attack.

The FBI had sent 100 special agents to Las Vegas to help with the investigation, he added.

Las Vegas police also revised downwards the number of those injured in the atrocity to 479. Mr Lombardo said 317 people had now been released from hospital.