Ten months after the deadliest mass shooting in recent American history, investigators in Nevada still don’t know why it happened.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters Friday the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s probe determined the “who, what, when, where and how” of the October 2017 mass shooting that left 58 dead and more than 850 wounded, but left the ultimate question — “why?” — unanswered.
“Finding answers for the victims has been our investigators soul goal to help bring closure for those affected and to move forward from this horrible event,” he said.
Lombardo’s news conference preceded the LVMPD’s release of a 187-page report detailing the investigation into the motives of gunman Stephen Paddock, 64. Family and friends described the retired accountant as a passionate hobbyist who quickly became bored with each new pursuit. He racked up complimentary hotel stays and meals as an avid gambler in Las Vegas and Reno, earned considerable wealth in real estate investments, and held no firm political or religious affiliations.
A primary care physician told investigators he believed Paddock displayed signs of bipolar disorder, while one of his brothers and a girlfriend confirmed he struggled with mental health issues. He spent 30 years amassing 67 firearms, according to the report, but had few run-ins with law enforcement, aside from traffic violations. Nothing he said or did in the weeks preceding the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival suggested he might be plotting mass violence, according to the report.
Lombardo told reporters Paddock acted alone, denying any conspiracy theories suggesting otherwise. Police recovered two dozen of Paddock’s firearms from the hotel suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where he perpetrated the attack. According to the report, 14 rifles were equipped with bump stocks, including the one found beside his dead body. No DNA or ballistics evidence pointed to any other shooter besides Paddock, investigators said.
In the report, Paddock’s longtime girlfriend, Marilou Danley, described their relationship as caring, but not affectionate and said Paddock complained of exhaustion and a chemical imbalance “doctors couldn’t fix.” Their life together consisted of lavish vacations across the world and frequent gambling trips. In their last stay together at the Mandalay Bay a month before the attack, Danley said Paddock spent a lot of time peering through the windows from various different angles, observing the Las Vegas strip 60 stories below.
Paddock’s brother, Eric, told investigators he thinks Paddock carried out the attack because “he had done everything in the world he wanted to do and was bored with everything.” Eric Paddock said his brother would plan to kill as many people as possible — regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or religion — so he could gain the notoriety of “having the largest casualty count.”
Lombardo said, according to federal standards, the shooting doesn’t qualify as an act of terrorism — though he personally disagrees. “I would personally call it a terrorist attack,” he said. “It had an influence on a certain demographic of people … intended to cause harm.”
Earlier this month, attorneys for MGM Resorts International sued shooting victims in Nevada federal court, seeking declaratory relief from liability.