Las Vegas suspect was a wealthy gambler, with no known radical inclinations
LAS VEGAS — He was a high-stakes gambler recognized in the casinos of Nevada. He dabbled in real estate investments in Texas. His last known full-time employment was 30 years ago. He was twice divorced. He had a pilot’s license and had owned two single-engine planes.
While his motive for the mass shooting outside a Las Vegas casino Sunday night is unknown, details of Stephen Paddock’s history pointed to an unmoored and highly unconventional life.
From his neighbors in a quiet retirement community in Mesquite, Nev., he drew little attention, unless it was for his extreme propensity to keep to himself. He displayed no strong religious or political views, his relatives said, and was not known for angry outbursts.
But he was the son of a bank robber who ultimately escaped from prison and spent most of the 1970s on the FBI’s most-wanted list. His girlfriend, sought for questioning by law enforcement officials after the shooting, has been out of the country.
Details about Paddock’s career and livelihood were sparse, aside from observations by neighbors and family members that he routinely gambled large amounts of money.
“He was a gambler, that was his job,” his brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters Monday at his home in Orlando. “He was a wealthy guy, playing video poker, who went cruising all the time and lived in a hotel room.”
Stephen Paddock and his three brothers were raised by their mother, who told the children that their father had died when in fact he was in prison, Eric Paddock said. Paddock’s father was convicted in 1961 of committing a series of bank robberies and was sentenced to 20 years, but he escaped from a federal prison in Texas in 1968 and became a used-car dealer and bingo parlor operator in Oregon.
A “wanted” poster for the elder Paddock warned that he was “diagnosed as psychopathic,” “reportedly has suicidal tendencies,” and “should be considered armed and very dangerous.”
The children’s mother was left to raise the family on her own. They moved around the country, from Iowa to Tucson to Southern California, another brother, Patrick Paddock II, of Tucson, said. Stephen Paddock’s behavior did not offer any indication of violent tendencies, the brother said.
“He was the least violent in the family during my childhood,’’ he said.
Stephen Paddock attended college, his family said, and worked for a predecessor company to Lockheed Martin, the aerospace contracting company, from 1985-1988.
Paddock once owned and managed a working-class apartment complex in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas, records show.
A resident, Priscilla McBride, told The Dallas Morning News that Paddock often roamed the apartment property, casually talking to residents.
Two of the gunman’s three brothers said they were not close, and the third could not be located. Patrick Paddock said he and his brother had not been in contact for as long as 20 years, and he did not initially recognize the face that flashed on his television screen. He wondered aloud about the motive behind the crime and expressed profound distress for the victims.
“My anxiety is not a drop in the ocean compared to how I feel about the people who got killed,” he said.
Eric Paddock broke down in tears during an interview. “There’s nothing I can say. My brother did this. It’s like he shot us. I couldn’t be more dumbfounded,” he said.
He said he last communicated with his brother when Stephen inquired about how the family had fared during Hurricane Irma, which struck Florida in September.
“He texted me to ask about my mom after the hurricane,” Eric Paddock said. “He sent her a walker.”
He said the situation has been very difficult for their 91-year-old mother, who “had to deal with her husband who was a bank robber and now this.”
Stephen Paddock, 64, lived with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62. She worked as “high-limit hostess” at the Atlantis Casino in Reno from 2010-2013, according to her LinkedIn account.
Paddock seemed to have no criminal history, according to records searches in places where he was known to have lived.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, described Paddock as a “lone wolf” and said that a motive for the horrific attack remained unclear. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point,” Lombardo said.
Eric Paddock told CBS News that he knew Paddock had handguns but that as far as he knew, Paddock did not own “machine guns.”
“He has no military background or anything like that,” the brother said.
Christopher Sullivan, general manager of Guns & Guitars, a gun store in Mesquite, Nev., confirmed that Paddock bought three guns at his shop within the last year: a handgun and two rifles. All the purchases were legal and cleared routine federal screening, Sullivan said.
Eric Paddock told reporters in Florida that his brother “had nothing to do with any political organization, religious organization, no white supremacist, nothing, as far as I know. And I’ve only known him for 57 years.”
Paddock had a private pilot’s license, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and had two small single-engine planes registered in his name.