Shooter Behind Las Vegas Massacre Had No Criminal Record

Oct 2, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 11:58 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Let's talk now about the 64-year-old-man who law enforcement officials say was responsible for this deadliest gun massacre in modern U.S. history. Stephen Paddock took his own life as a SWAT team approached his hotel room. Paddock lived most recently in the town of Mesquite, Nev., where NPR's Howard Berkes joins us now. Hey, Howard.

HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: Hi there.

MCEVERS: Tell us what we know at this point about Stephen Paddock.

BERKES: Yeah, so far we don't know anything that hints at a motive. But Paddock was heavily armed both in the hotel room in Las Vegas and here at his home in Mesquite. At least 34 guns found so far in both places along with several pounds of Tannerite. That's an explosive that's used for target practice. Police also found ammonium nitrate in his car. That's a chemical that can be used to make explosives.

There's a gun shop owner here in Mesquite who issued a statement saying Paddock purchased guns there but passed background checks and gave no indication that he was unstable or unfit. A gun shop owner nearby in Utah says the same thing. There were no red flags, he said.

Paddock lived here in Mesquite for about two and a half years. He also has an apartment in northern Nevada in Reno and police are searching there. His father was a convicted bank robber but Paddock himself, despite his weapons cache, was clean when it came to the law according to Quinn Averett, the spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department.

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QUINN AVERETT: What's unique for us is the gunman - the shooter and the person with him, we the Mesquite Police Department have not had any contacts with these people in the past. We haven't had any traffic stops. We haven't any law enforcement contacts, no arrests or nothing.

MCEVERS: So no past record. What about Paddock's state of mind? Have you learned anything about his mental health?

BERKES: We still know very little about this man. Police continue to scour his homes for clues. But near Orlando, Fla., today his younger brother, Eric Paddock, spoke with CNN and was asked whether his brother had any psychological problems.

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ERIC PADDOCK: Absolutely not as far as I know. Once again, nothing like that. He was a wealthy guy. And he liked to play video poker. He went on cruises. He sent his mother cookies from - I mean, big, huge, crazy boxes of cookies and stuff.

MCEVERS: So then, Howard, what about the neighborhood where Paddock lived there in Mesquite, Nev.? What kind of place is it? And what are his neighbors saying?

BERKES: The police have the immediate neighborhood blocked off, so we can't get to his immediate neighbors or his house. But it is ironically in a subdivision named Prominence and it has new prominence today. And it's like the rest of this community of Sun City Mesquite - new stucco homes with tan tile roofs. A golf course is adjacent to Paddock's subdivision and there were golfers out there today. It's a retirement community. It's a place where people come to because of the sun, because of the recreation, because of the outdoors and because of the gambling.

And while we couldn't get to neighbors, I did run into Mark Samson, a retired schoolteacher who recognized Paddock's photo on TV as someone he's seen at the local recreation center. Samson says everyone here is surprised that someone among them is responsible for this horrific shooting.

MARK SAMSON: We can say we never would guess it, but I suppose most communities are that way. But I've told other people this morning that everybody that lives here is - seem very happy. They all wanted to be here. They weren't trapped in the home. They chose to be here. Everybody waves at everybody. Everybody's happy. So it's surprising that somebody would have that much anger towards other people. It surprises us.

BERKES: And there was another man out for a walk today who told me he hopes investigators find out more so that this sort of thing can be prevented. That's all we can do now, he said, is prevent another one.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's Howard Berkes in Mesquite, Nev. Howard, thank you very much.

BERKES: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.