Vegas shooter set up cameras in hotel room to spot cops
LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas gunman planned the massacre so meticulously that he even set up cameras inside the peephole of his high-rise hotel room and on a service cart outside his door, apparently to spot anyone coming for him, authorities said on Tuesday.
Authorities are trying to determine why Stephen Paddock killed 59 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said he was absolutely confident authorities would find out what set off Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler and retired accountant who killed himself before police stormed his 32nd-floor room.
Authorities released police body camera video that showed the chaos of the attack as officers tried to figure out the location of the shooter and shuttle people to safety.
Amid sirens and volleys of gunfire, people yelled “they’re shooting right at us” while officers shouted “go that way!”
Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said the shooting spanned between nine and 11 minutes.
The cameras Paddock set up at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino were part of his extensive preparations that included stockpiling nearly two dozen guns in his room before opening fire on the concert below.
McMahill said the cameras included one in the peephole and two in the hallway.
“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” Lombardo said.
During the Sunday night rampage, a hotel security guard who approached the room was shot through the door and wounded in the leg.
“The fact that he had the type of weaponry and amount of weaponry in that room, it was preplanned extensively,” the sheriff said, “and I’m pretty sure he evaluated everything that he did and his actions, which is troublesome.”
Lombardo said the investigation was proceeding cautiously in case criminal charges were warranted against someone else.
He owned 42 guns
“This investigation is not ended with the demise of Mr. Paddock,” the sheriff said. “Did this person get radicalized unbeknown to us? And we want to identify that source.”
In addition to the cameras, investigators found a computer and 23 guns with him at the hotel, along with 12 “bump stock” devices that can enable a rifle to fire continuously, like an automatic weapon, authorities said.
Nineteen more guns were found at Paddock’s Mesquite home and seven at his Reno house.
Video shot outside the broken door of the room shows an assault-style rifle with a scope on a bipod.
Evidence at site
The sheriff said an internal investigation has been launched to find out how that footage was obtained.
Some investigators turned their focus on Tuesday from the shooter’s perch to the festival grounds where his victims fell.
A dozen investigators, most in FBI jackets and all wearing blue booties to avoid contaminating the scene, documented evidence at the site where gunfire rained down and country music gave way to screams of pain and terror.
“Shoes, baby strollers, chairs, sunglasses, purses. The whole field was just littered with things,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt after touring the site on Monday. “There were bloodstains everywhere.”
More than 500 people were injured in the rampage, some by gunfire, some during the chaotic escape.
What set him off?
As for what may have set Paddock off, retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente speculated that there was “some sort of major trigger in his life—a great loss, a breakup, or maybe he just found out he has a terminal disease.”
Clemente said a “psychological autopsy” might be necessary to try to establish the motive. If the suicide didn’t destroy Paddock’s brain, experts may even find a neurological disorder or malformation, he said.
He said there could be a genetic component to the slaughter: Paddock’s father was a bank robber who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list in the 1960s and was diagnosed a psychopath.
“The genetics load the gun, personality and psychology aim it, and experiences pull the trigger, typically,” Clemente said.
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