Details are slowly trickling out about how 64-year-old Stephen Paddock carried out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history when he opened fire on thousands of Route 91 Harvest Festival attendees from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. It has been a little over two days since the attack and a portrait of Paddock and the victims are starting to emerge. Here is what we know:
A Fire Alarm May Have Pinpointed the Shooter’s Location
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department responded quickly to 911 calls that began coming through at 10:08 pm Sunday. While initial reports that muzzle flash from Paddock’s gun helped police pinpoint his location at Mandalay Bay hotel, we recently learned that it was smoke detector that gave away Paddock’s location. As he fired round after round, gun smoke filled his room and soon triggered the fire alarm. According to Randy Sutton, a retired lieutenant of Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the SWAT team was able to zero in on Paddock’s location in roughly 20 minutes because of the triggered alarm. Once the authorities located the room, the SWAT team used explosives to get inside. Paddock was found dead when they entered.
Countless Tales of Heroism By The Victims
The mass shooting on Sunday night has left at least 58 people dead and over 525 people injured. Around 45 patients are still in critical condition at two hospitals in Nevada. According to Las Vegas officials, the dead were identified by Tuesday evening, leaving a grim picture of how far the devastation reached.
Portraits of the victims have begun to appear online with a large portion of California residents, as well as people from Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Alaska. At least four of those killed were Canadian citizens.
As we learn more about those lost, there are countless stories of heroism and selflessness. People shielded their loved ones and strangers from gunfire. Others ran towards the terror to help the wounded. One woman shared her account of holding a stranger in her arms as he died just so he wouldn’t be alone for his final minutes.
The Shooter Used Cameras to Monitor the Hallway and Room Peephole
Metro PD Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said in a press conference that the shooter’s attack was “preplanned extensively.” After searching the suite occupied by Paddock on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, authorities discovered a computer and 23 guns. Another 19 guns were found at Paddock’s home in Mesquite, Nevada with an additional seven at his residence in Reno.
Paddock had checked into the hotel Thursday (Sept. 28) and in that time set up two cameras outside the room, including on a service cart, and installed an additional camera into the peephole.
“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” Lombardo said of the cameras.
During the attack, a hotel security guard approached the room, was presumably caught on the cameras and subsequently was shot through the door and wounded in the leg.
The Shooter May Have Targeted Another Festival the Weekend Before
On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that the weekend prior to the massacre Paddock had rented multiple condos overlooking Las Vegas’ annual Life Is Beautiful festival. A senior law enforcement source told the site that Paddock rented space at the 21-story Ogden luxury condominium which was near the location of the festival. This year’s Life Is Beautiful was held from Sept. 22-25 with headlining performances from Lorde and Chance the Rapper.
Public affairs officer for the owner of The Ogden told The Daily Beast “We’re not in a position to confirm or deny anything about Mr. Paddock’s dealings. I suggest you contact Metro [police]. As you know this is an on going investigation.”
The Shooter’s Girlfriend is a ‘Person of Interest’
At the time of the attack, Paddock’s live-in girlfriend Marilou Danley was out of the country. Authorities have labeled Danley a ‘person of interest’ due to her relationship with the shooter. Danley returned to the United States from the Philippines on Tuesday evening at Los Angeles International Airport and was met by the FBI. Danley was reportedly not under arrest, but was sought for questioning.
More than two weeks prior to the shooting, Danely arrived in Manila on Sept. 15, flew to Hong Kong on Sept. 22, and returned to Manila on Sept. 25. She is believed to be of Filipino decent and lived for many years in Australia.
Danley lived with Paddock at his condo at a retirement home in Mesquite, Nevada. The timeline of their relationship is still unclear, but the couple is believed to have met at Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa in Reno where she worked from 2010-2013. According to casino employees, Paddock was a high-limit player and Danley often attended to him until she reportedly “went off with Stephen.” Danley, however, was married to Geary Danley until 2015 when they jointly filed for divorce. On the divorce papers she listed her residence as a condo owned by Paddock.
Danley’s sisters in Australia told Seven Network Australia that Marilou had no prior knowledge of the attack. They claim that Marilou was told by Paddock that he had found her a cheap ticket to the Philippines and essentially sent her away so that she would not interfere with what he was planning.