First Responders Describe Storming Vegas Suspect’s Hotel Room
Police who responded to the Las Vegas hotel room from where gunman Stephen Paddock rained terror on a crowd of thousands have spoken out.
Detectives Casey Clarkson and Matthew Donaldson, Officers Joshua Bitsko and Dave Newton, as well as SWAT team member Levi Hancock, described what they found in Paddock’s room earlier this month, speaking to a “60 Minutes” reporter.
“We’re told that security is taking fire from a suspect on the 29th floor,” Bitsko said on the CBS show. “And that we had other officers that were identifying the suspect was in a room on the 32nd floor. So we’re thinking multiple shooters at this point.”
The team was able to find room 159 after a security guard said he saw about 200 rounds fired into the hallway.
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The shooter barricaded a door with “with a piece of metal and some screws,” one of the officers said. They had to open it with a pry bar.
“There’s a room service cart with wires going on it underneath the door,” Newton said. “There was something black on top of the cart. So initially I’m, you know, I’m thinking, “This is a booby-trap. It’s—it’s gonna explode.”
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“I could see the suspect’s door was just riddled with bullet holes coming out,” he added. “It looked like Swiss cheese.”
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The team then used an explosive to blow open the door.
“So many guns. So many magazines. Stacks and stacks of magazines everywhere,” Newton described. “Just in suitcases all neatly stacked against pillars, around the room, all stacked up, rifles placed all throughout. All kinds of monitors and electrical equipment he had in there. It just looked like almost a gun store.
“Shell casings all over the floor. I could smell the—gunpowder that—that had went [sic] off in the room. We were trippin’ over guns. Trippin’ over long guns inside. There was so many.”
Then, police saw the suspect, who appeared mortally wounded.
“I didn’t see any apparent wounds to his head. But I did see a lotta blood that had come outta his mouth,” said Newton. “There was—a bloody revolver I think—nearby. Nearby him that was on the ground consistent with him shootin’ himself,” added Bitsko.
Paddock is accused of killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more.
Police and investigators said they haven’t been able to determine a motive for the shooting.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who oversees the police department, on Monday said Paddock shot a hotel security guard six minutes before beginning to fire on the crowd. By coincidence, the security officer, Jesus Campos, had been sent to check an open-door alarm on the same floor, Reuters reported.
Officials initially said Paddock began raining gunfire onto the concert first, then stopped shooting after strafing the 32nd-floor hallway through the doorway of his room, when Campos was apparently detected via security cameras the gunman had set up outside his suite.
Earlier police accounts said a wounded Campos helped direct police to the room occupied by Paddock, who had quit firing on concertgoers by then. Lombardo originally said police officers reached the 32nd floor within 12 minutes of the first reports of the attack.
That sequence of events was changed in Monday’s new timeline issued by Lombardo.
“What we have learned is (the security guard) was encountered by the suspect prior to his shooting to the outside world,” Lombardo said.
Reuters contributed to this report.