No Clear Motive Determined In Las Vegas Shooting Investigation

Authorities in Las Vegas say they cannot "definitively" determine Stephen Paddock's motive in the Oct. 1 mass shooting.

Investigators still have not been able to discern a motive for Stephen Paddock, who opened fire on 22,000 concertgoers from his perch at a hotel in Las Vegas last October. 

“By all accounts Stephen Paddock was an unremarkable man,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said during a press conference Friday announcing his department’s release of its final criminal investigative report. 

Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree, was responsible for the worst mass shooting in modern American history. He fired more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd gathered to enjoy the Route 91 Harvest country music festival and killed 58 people, injuring some 800 more.

Although Lombardo said there were signs Paddock had “a troubled mind” prior to his shooting rampage, he stated that none of those were enough to concern law enforcement.

Police found Paddock dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Mandalay Bay hotel room after the incident, with multiple weapons strewn about.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s final criminal investigative report on the shooting contains shell casing analysis, interviews with survivors, a financial report and interviews with Paddock’s family and doctors. The 187-page document was made available Friday on the department’s website.

The sheriff declined to comment on actions taken by individual officers who responded. The report also does not offer suggestions on security measures Mandalay Bay hotel management could have taken to prevent such a tragedy.

A broken window is seen in Stephen Paddock's room at the Mandalay Bay hotel.
A broken window is seen in Stephen Paddock's room at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

On the question of motive, Lombardo said investigators simply had to make their best “educated guess” based on available evidence. Unlike other mass shooters, Paddock left behind no political or social manifesto to explain himself, nor did he have any known ties to extremist groups. 

The sheriff said he believes Paddock was driven by a number of factors, including recent gambling losses. His habit was self-funded, however, and he was not indebted to anyone at the time of his death. 

According to the report, Paddock had $2,100,000 spread across 14 bank accounts in 2015; by 2017, that amount had decreased to $530,000. Most of the decline occurred in 2017, with $95,000 going toward firearms purchases.

Paddock “heavily invested, monetarily and emotionally, in any activity he began,” the report says, giving as examples his past interest in flying and scuba diving. He bought a plane and splurged on scuba gear but would typically lose interest in the hobbies he started, selling the equipment soon after its purchase. 

Two chairs pushed together hold firearms in Stephen Paddock's Mandalay Bay hotel room.
Two chairs pushed together hold firearms in Stephen Paddock's Mandalay Bay hotel room.

Friends and family described him as a narcissist with no arrest record or any religious or political affiliations ― although his girlfriend noted he was pleased with President Donald Trump’s election. His primary care physician told investigators Paddock often complained of feeling ill and fatigued but declined a prescription for antidepressant medication. Yet he agreed to medications for anxiety.

Digital evidence taken from Paddock’s laptops indicated he began searching Google for terms such as “summer concerts 2017” and “biggest open air concert venues in USA” several months before the Las Vegas shooting, in May 2017. In early September, he entered queries specific to events in Las Vegas.

The report details the parallels between the Mandalay Bay shooting and Paddock’s September 2017 stay at The Ogden, a Las Vegas condominium complex. Because a different open-air concert took place nearby during Paddock’s stay, investigators believe it may have been a dry run.

The FBI’s behavioral analysis unit is expected to release a report on Paddock’s psychopathology by the end of the year.

Lombardo noted toward the end of the press conference that Las Vegas was a “safe tourist community,” but he cautioned that a similar incident could happen again.

This has been updated.

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