The FBI and Las Vegas Police Department seemingly left no stone unturned in their quest to ascertain exactly why 64-year-old Stephen Paddock – a multimillionaire real-estate investor and video-poker aficionado – decided to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Investigators raided Paddock’s homes, interrogated his siblings and longtime girlfriend – whom he had reportedly “sent away” on a trip abroad before committing his horrible crime – scrutinized his finances and interviewed employees at the casinos where he regularly was comped rooms and other luxuries, perks of his high-roller status.
Still, many details remain unclear. The official timeline of events was changed several times, and there’s still some doubt as to whether Paddock shot security guard Jesus Campos – the first person to alert authorities to Paddock’s whereabouts – before or after he opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd of country music fans. Authorities insist they have found no evidence to suggest that Paddock had help in carrying out his assault.
And while investigators have made little progress in their search for a motive, sheriff Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas police revealed last month that Paddock had racked up millions of dollars in gambling losses in the years before the shooting.
But now that the initial phase of the investigation is over, the victims and their families will need to wait until late next year before the FBI releases its definitive report on the Oct. 1 shooting, which left 59 dead and more than 500 injured. According to Fox News, the report is expected to be finished shortly before the one-year anniversary of the shooting.
While the LVPD is preparing its own report, the FBI will focus on why Paddock did what he did – a question that has been left almost totally unresolved, according to Fox News, which cited an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal.
“Now that’s a long time for some people, but speaking for the FBI, that’s light speed, all right?” Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday.
Rouse said reports from other agencies investigating the mass shooting will be released at different times, but the FBI’s one is “focusing a large part on the why” which is “what everybody wants to know."
That burning question has not been answered, but Rouse said evidence still suggests Paddock was the only person involved in the attack and that he has not been linked with any affiliations or ideologies. The FBI previously denied claims by the Islamic State that Paddock was responding to a call to intensify attacks against Western countries bombing its territories in Syria and Iraq.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said in the past that Paddock’s mounting gambling losses may have played a role.
“As I sit here today, I believe that we are learning as much as we possibly can about why the subject did what they did,” Rouse said.
One it’s finally released, the report will include a digest of all the information gleaned from over 400 interviews FBI agents conducted in the US and abroad. The bureau has also reviewed 22,000 hours of footage captured by surveillance cameras and cell phones.
Rouse told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the FBI has interviewed around 400 people worldwide in connection to Paddock and has brought in the same number of specialists to help document evidence. He said the Route 91 Harvest music festival site took investigators 14 days to comb over, while Paddock’s room and hotel hallway at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino took 13. Important items found at both sites have been sent to the FBI's central lab in Virginia.
"We’re going to have, I think, the best digital schematic of what happened and where it happened and how it happened that you can come up with," Rouse said.
He added that FBI investigators have 22,000 hours of surveillance and cellphone footage and 250,000 photos to look over, amounting to about 40 terabytes of data.
"We didn’t leave anything uncovered,” Rouse told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “And again, the casinos, with their support, let us track down a lot of information of who may have had contact with that person. And it was very helpful to us."
In the two-and-a-half months since the shooting, hundreds of victims and their families have filed lawsuits against MGM Resorts, the owner of the Mandalay Bay resort and casino where Paddock carried out his deadly massacre. Many of the lawsuits allege negligence on behalf of the hotel and its staff. As the victims’ attorneys begin discovery, it’s possible that some of the details withheld by the FBI and police might surface.
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Meanwhile, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg on Friday released the official coroner's report on the massacre. It included some grim details: Of the 59 people (including Paddock) who were killed, all of them died of gunshot wounds, according to the New York Post. None had been trampled, as some media outlets had initially reported.
Most of those killed died from a single gunshot wound, though four victims sustained multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner said. Twenty-one people were shot in the head, 36 died with chest and back wounds and one - Rocio Guillen of Corona, California - died of a gunshot to the leg, according to a chart the coroner released. Another 500 people were injured during the shooting.
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