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Vegas shooter eyed Chicago, Boston, too

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Vegas shooter eyed Chicago, Boston, too

/ 07:00 AM October 07, 2017

LAS VEGAS IN MOURNING Veronica Hartfield (left) widow of slain Las Vegas policeman Charleston Hartfield and their son Ayzayah Hartfield, 15, attend a vigil for the slain police officer on Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Charleston Hartfield, was one of the 58 killed when Stephen Paddock opened fire on the concert crowd. AFP

LAS VEGAS—Investigators are looking into whether gunman Stephen Paddock scoped out bigger music festivals in Las Vegas and Chicago—and perhaps Boston’s Fenway Park—before setting up his perch in a casino hotel and raining deadly fire on country music fans.

Paddock booked rooms overlooking the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in August and the Life Is Beautiful show near the Vegas Strip in late September, according to authorities reconstructing his movements before he undertook the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

It was not clear if he contemplated massacres at those sites.

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Investigators looking into Paddock also came across mention of Fenway Park, Boston police Lt. Detective Mike McCarthy said, though he provided no further details.

 

Back story

The details came to light as investigators struggled to figure out why the high-stakes gambler opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 on Sunday night from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel- casino in Las Vegas. He killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 before taking his own life.

A federal official said authorities are looking into the possibility Paddock planned additional attacks, including a car bombing. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Authorities previously disclosed Paddock had 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car, along with fertilizer that can be used to make explosives and 50 pounds of Tannerite, a substance used in explosive rifle targets.

Girlfriend’s statement

Paddock had an arsenal of 23 weapons in his hotel room. A dozen of them included “bump stocks,” attachments that can effectively convert semiautomatic rifles into fully automated weapons.

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In the meantime, Las Vegas police announced on Thursday that they had found a Hyundai Tucson they had been searching for as part of the probe while executing a search warrant at the home in Reno that Paddock shared with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley.

Danley, who returned late Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines, is regarded by investigators as a “person of interest.”

The Australian citizen of Filipino heritage is cooperating fully with authorities, her lawyer said.

Danley shared Paddock’s home at a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas, before traveling to the Philippines in mid-September.

Investigators questioned her about Paddock’s weapons purchases, a $100,000 wire transfer to a Philippine bank that appeared to be intended for her, and whether she saw any changes in his behavior before she left the United States.

Danley said Paddock had bought her an airline ticket to visit her family and wired her money to purchase property there, leading her to worry he might be planning to break up with her.

But Danley told FBI agents on Wednesday she had not noticed any changes in his mental state or indications he could become violent, the federal official said.

Investigators combing through his background for clues remain stumped as to his motive.

Community members attend the vigil. —AFP

‘Disturbed and dangerous’

The profile developed so far is of a “disturbed and dangerous” man who acquired an arsenal over decades, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said.

But investigators have been frustrated to find that he lived a “secret life,” Lombardo said, “much of which will never be fully understood.”

A former executive casino host at the Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa in Reno said Paddock had a “god complex” and expected quick service without regard to how busy the staff was at the time.

“He liked everybody to think that he was the guy,” John Weinreich said. “He didn’t boast about anything he had or anything. It was just his demeanor. It was like, ‘I’m here. Don’t cross me. Don’t look at me too long.’”

Before Mandalay

The weekend before the massacre, he rented a room through Airbnb at the 21-story Ogden condominiums in downtown Las Vegas and stayed there during a music festival below that included Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182.

“Reasons that ran through Paddock’s mind is unknown, but it was directly at the same time as Life Is Beautiful,” the sheriff said.

Police were reviewing video shot at the high-rise to check Paddock’s movements. His renting the condo was curious because, as a high-roller, he could have easily gotten a free room at one of the casino hotels on the Vegas Strip.

In early August, Paddock booked a room at Chicago’s 21-story Blackstone Hotel that overlooked the park where the Lollapalooza alternative music festival was being held, though there’s no evidence he actually stayed there, a law enforcement official said on Thursday.

The hotel confirmed a Stephen Paddock made a reservation but said he never checked in.

Although Paddock killed himself as a SWAT team closed in, the sheriff said it appeared he had planned to survive and had an escape plan. Lombardo would not elaborate on the plan.

The coroner’s office in Las Vegas would not release details of its autopsy on Paddock. Some behavioral experts have wondered whether he suffered from some kind of brain abnormality or had a terminal illness that prompted him to lash out.

—REPORTS THE WIRES

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TAGS: guns, Las Vegas shooting, stephen paddock, US violence, world news
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