Nearly two weeks after one of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history, authorities have yet to sort out the basic facts surrounding the case of a high-stakes video poker player who murdered 58 people from his high-rise hotel room in Las Vegas.
What drove Stephen Paddock to open fire on the country music festival? Police and the FBI say they’re still at a loss to explain his motive.
When did he fire his first shots in his Mandalay Bay hotel room? Those facts are still in dispute amid a constantly shifting timeline of events.
Why did Paddock stop firing into the concert? Authorities do not know, but police apparently had not reached his hotel room by that point.
Las Vegas police are expected to release new information about the case Friday after a week that has seen the timeline of the shooting change almost daily.
In the most recent chronology provided Monday, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Paddock started spraying 200 rounds from his suite at the Mandalay Bay resort into a 32nd floor hallway at 9:59 p.m. on Oct. 1, wounding an unarmed security guard in the leg.
Six minutes later, the gunman unleashed a barrage of bullets on the festival crowd, according to the latest police timeline. He then killed himself with a gunshot to the head.
What happened in those six minutes has generated intense focus, with lawyers questioning why police and security weren’t able to thwart Paddock earlier.
Mandalay Bay hotel officials on Thursday disputed the timeline and whether six minutes actually passed between the first gunfire in the hallway and the start of the concert rampage. They said Paddock may have wounded the security guard within 40 seconds of firing into the crowd.
The 64-year-old real estate investor and retired accountant began his 10-minute attack on the crowd at 10:05 p.m., firing more than 1,000 rounds from two bashed-out windows, police said. Police didn’t arrive on the 32nd floor until 10:17 p.m., two minutes after he had stopped shooting, according to Lombardo.
In a statement Thursday, MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, said the 9:59 p.m. reported time of the hallway shooting came from a report that was manually created after the massacre. “We are now confident that the time stated in this report is not accurate,” the statement said.
The wounded guard, Jesus Campos, used his radio to call for help, the statement said. A maintenance worker, Stephen Schuck, has said he also called for help on his radio, asking a dispatcher to call the police because someone was shooting a rifle on the 32nd floor. It’s not clear what Mandalay Bay maintenance and security workers did with those messages by the guard and other worker.
Police have declined to comment on MGM’s statement.
The timeline given by police earlier this week differed dramatically from the one they gave last week: that Paddock wounded Campos after he had opened fire on the crowd. Campos was called a hero whose presence outside Paddock’s suite stopped the concert carnage.
The six minutes that transpired between the hallway shooting and the start of the gunman’s fusillade wouldn’t have been enough time for officers to stop the attack, said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director who has worked on SWAT teams. Rather than rush in without a game plan, police would have been formulating the best response to the barricaded gunman, he said.
“Maybe that’s enough time to get the first patrolman onto the floor but the first patrolman is not going to go knock on that customer’s door and say ‘What’s going on with 200 holes in the door?'” Hosko said.
As authorities seek answers about the timeline, they are lacking one important investigative tool. There are no surveillance cameras in the hotel hallways at the Mandalay Bay.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said investigators haven’t determined a motive behind the mass shooting, but they’re still digging.
“There’s a lot of effort being put into unraveling this horrific act,” Wray told reporters after a ribbon-cutting for the FBI’s new Atlanta building. “We don’t know yet what the motive is, but that’s not for lack of trying, and if you know anything about the bureau we don’t give up easy.”
State court officials in Las Vegas on Thursday released copies of two search warrant applications that police submitted to a judge who approved a raid on Paddock’s home in the retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. The documents list items that investigators were seeking, including guns, explosives, vehicles, computers, photos, documents, medications and personal records.
Also Thursday, a funeral was held for Erick Silva, a 21-year-old security guard at the festival who was shot in the head while helping people climb over a barricade to escape the gunfire. Dozens of fellow “yellow shirt” security guards were among the hundreds of mourners at the service, where Silva was hailed as a hero.
“We counted on him, and he didn’t let us down,” said his boss, Gina Argento.
Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Sally Ho in Las Vegas, Kate Brumback in Atlanta and Michelle Price in Salt Lake City, Utah contributed to this report.
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(Courtesy of Eric Paddock via AP)