On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fired on a country music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, leaving 58 people dead. 546 have been wounded with 45 people still hospitalized, many in critical condition, making this the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Just seconds after shooting security guard Jesus Campos in the leg on his hotel floor, Paddock disrupted Jason Aldean’s performance by firing mercilessly upon the crowd of 22,000 with his guns for 9 to 11 minutes. When the police broke into his room, they found he had committed suicide with self-inflicted gun wounds to his head.
As the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department have continued the investigation, they found 23 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition that Paddock brought to his room over the three days he spent in his hotel suite. Twelve of his legally-purchased guns had bump stocks, which enable them to be fired more rapidly. In his car were more than 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition, police said.
The evidence gathered by the police indicates that Paddock had meticulously prepared for his attack. He had set up three cameras to monitor the corridor outside his suite. Additionally, they discovered a note in his room containing calculations on distance and trajectory to the concertgoers below, revealing that he put considerable thought into his mass murder.
Among these preparations, Paddock may have planned to escape after shooting upon the audience. The authorities have found evidence that he attempted to shoot at fuel tanks nearby. Sheriff Joseph Lombardo stated that he believes that if thi occurred, the splash caused by this shooting would have led to the first responders focusing their attentions on other locations, effectively allowing Paddock to leave the hotel amidst the confusion.
Despite the ongoing investigation, the authorities are struggling to find any evidence pointing to a motive behind Paddock’s horrific actions. He was able to pass all background checks while purchasing dozens of deadly weapons and accessories. Many are utilizing this instance to call out for stricter gun control legislation due his legal and unhindered acquisition of these firearms. None of the information known about the killer points to a clear explanation as to why he would fire upon a country music concert. Paddock was a retired accountant that had married and divorced twice. The 64 year-old gambled frequently among the Vegas casinos and wired his girlfriend Marilou Danley $100,000 while she was in the Philippines the week before the shooting.
Danley recently clarified that it had “never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence.” One of his brothers stated that the shooter had no apparent political or religious affiliations, despite the claims made by ISIS that he was one of their soldiers. The police have found no connection linking Paddock to any extremist or terrorist groups. After an autopsy was performed with no findings of any abnormalities on his brain, it has been sent to another facility to undergo a microscopic evaluation. With no criminal record, addictions, or mental illness, he seemed an unlikely candidate to commit a mass murder on a crowd of innocent people.
After following over a thousand leads in search of a motive, those that have looked into Paddock’s past feel that his personal life may have led to his mass murder. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, childhood trauma may have contributed significantly to his decision to shoot at an audience of thousands of people. The research gathered by this study reveals that intense trauma experienced by individuals as they are growing up dramatically increases the likelihood of adult criminality and mental illness. This information seems to provide somewhat of an explanation to Paddock’s shooting, as he experienced violent abuse within his family and was abandoned by his psychopathic father, who was placed on the FBI’s most wanted list in 1969 after escaping his sentence in his prison for bank robbery.
Although much is difficult to understand in this situation, the authorities are still attempting to uncover the unanswered questions as America begins the slow process of healing during the aftermath of the most terrible massacre in modern U.S. history.
By: Maddie Fossler