Chilling new clues suggest the man behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history planned to inflict even more carnage.
Stephen Paddock didn’t just have 23 weapons in his Mandalay Bay hotel suite, which he turned into a sniper’s nest to kill 58 Las Vegas concertgoers.
He also had more than 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car in the hotel parking lot, police said.
Investigators now believe Paddock intended to survive the massacre, Las Vegas police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Wednesday.
“He was doing everything possible to see how he could escape,” Lombardo said, declining to detail specifics.
But what motivated Paddock to kill dozens of strangers — and where he planned to strike next — remains a mystery.
Law enforcement analyst: Car bomb possible
Of the explosives found in Paddock’s car, authorities first found several pounds of ammonium nitrate, Lombardo said.
He said a later search of cases found in the car revealed 50 pounds of Tannerite — a brand-name product that’s marketed as explosive rifle targets.
The cache of explosives in Paddock’s car could indicate plans for a car bomb, CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick said.
“Those explosives, that’s the scary part. What was he going to do with those? I mean, you don’t just acquire them and leave them in your vehicle and not have a plan for them,” said Roderick, former assistant director of the US Marshals Service.
“The Tannerite could have set off the ammonium nitrate,” Roderick said. “So, was he using that as a vehicle-borne explosive device?”
It’s possible no one will ever learn Paddock’s plan for the explosives. The gunman killed himself before police breached his hotel room door.
Booking rooms near other music festivals
Before checking into Mandalay Bay days before the massacre, Paddock rented a room at a Las Vegas condo complex that overlooked another music festival.
Paddock rented the room at the Ogden condo complex via Airbnb during the Life is Beautiful music festival, which lasted from September 22 to 25, the sheriff said.
“Was he doing pre-surveillance? We don’t know yet. This is all conjecture at this point,” Lombardo said.
And in August, a person named Stephen Paddock reserved a room at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel during the city’s Lollapalooza music festival, said Wagstaff Worldwide, which represents the hotel.
But that person never checked into the hotel, which overlooked the festival, WWM spokeswoman Emmy Carragher said.
It was not immediately clear whether the Stephen Paddock who booked the room was the same Stephen Paddock behind the Las Vegas massacre.
Wagstaff Worldwide said Blackstone Hotel is cooperating with authorities.
A new timeline
New evidence shows Paddock fired his first shots into the Route 91 Harvest music festival at 10:05 p.m. Sunday — three minutes earlier than what police previously reported, Lombardo said.
For 10 minutes, Paddock sprayed hundreds of bullets into the crowd about a quarter mile away. The shots pummeled the gathering of 22,000 people with devastating speed, due to the help of bump stocks — legal accessories that make weapons fire similarly to an automatic rifle.
As the indiscriminate killings continued, police said, cameras were positioned inside and outside Paddock’s hotel suite and in the door’s peep hole.
A security guard approached the 32nd-floor suite and was shot in the leg by Paddock. The 64-year-old gunman fired “well over 200 rounds” into the hallway, Lombardo said.
“It’s amazing that security guard didn’t sustain additional injury,” the sheriff said.
At 10:15 p.m., Paddock fired his last shots, police said. Three minutes later, the wounded security guard told Las Vegas police he’d been shot and directed officers to the gunman’s room.
More than an hour later, at 11:20 p.m., police first breached Paddock’s suite and found his body on the ground. Seven minutes later, officers gained access to a second room of the suite. No one else was found, and police declared the suspect “down.”
The elusive motive
As more than 100 investigators dig for answers, police aren’t sure what turned a retired accountant into a mass killer.
“What we know is Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo, and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood,” the sheriff said.
Investigators said something may have happened to Paddock between October 2016 and last month that compelled him to purchase more weapons. Paddock bought 33 guns, mostly rifles, during that period, an ATF spokesperson said.
A note was found in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel room, but it was not a suicide note, the sheriff said. He did not detail what the note said.
No evidence indicates terrorism, FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said, but the investigation is ongoing.
Girlfriend: He sent me to the Philippines
Investigators want to know whether Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, has information that can explain what sparked the massacre.
Danley flew Tuesday to Los Angeles from the Philippines and has been cooperating with authorities, Rouse said.
Danley, through her attorney, said that she didn’t know Paddock planned to carry out a mass shooting.
He bought her a ticket to the Philippines about two weeks ago, then wired her money so she could buy a house there, she said in a statement. At the time, she worried he was trying to break up with her, she said.
Paddock wired $100,000 to the Philippines, a law enforcement source said. The FBI is working with Philippine authorities to get more details.
“It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” Danley said in the statement. “I will cooperate fully with their investigation. Anything I can do to help ease suffering and help in any way, I will do.”
The hunt for possible accomplices
Authorities are investigating whether Paddock acted alone or had accomplices. Lombardo, the sheriff, expressed skepticism that the gunman carried out his plan by himself.
“Do you think this was all accomplished on his own? You’ve got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point,” he said.
Lombardo cited the arsenal of lethal equipment found in Paddock’s homes in Verdi and Mesquite, Nevada.
In Verdi, near Reno, authorities found five handguns, two shotguns and a “plethora” of ammunition.
In his Mesquite home, investigators found at least 19 guns, as well as explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition.
“It’s troublesome this individual was able to move this amount of gear into a hotel room unassisted,” Lombardo said. “It’s troublesome for the amount of stuff he had at both residences unassisted.”