Stephen Paddock appeared to be settling into a quiet life two years ago when the wealthy 64-year-old apartment manager and high-stakes gambler bought a home in a rural Nevada retirement community, an hour’s drive from his beloved Las Vegas casinos.
Those who knew him say there was no indication he was capable of holing up in a room on the 32nd floor of one of those casinos, the Mandalay Bay, and opening fire on a country music festival across the street, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 others the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“He was a wealthy guy and he liked to play video poker and he liked to go on cruises,” the gunman’s seemingly baffled brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters from his doorstep in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, the day after the shooting.
“He’s never drawn his gun, it makes no sense,” Eric Paddock said. He said he was aware that his brother had a couple of handguns he kept in a safe, perhaps a long rifle, but no automatic weapons.
Eric Paddock described the shooter as a peaceful man who moved back to the red desert hills of Nevada partly because gambling is legal in the state and he hated Central Florida’s humidity.
The two were last in touch in early September, exchanging text messages about power outages after Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida, where their mother still lives.
“He had nothing to do with any political organization and religious organizations” as far as he was aware, Eric Paddock said.
Their father was Patrick Benjamin Paddock, a violent bank robber who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted list in the 1960s. The shooter himself had no criminal record beyond a traffic violation, police in Las Vegas said.
“We didn’t know him,” Eric Paddock said of their father.
Gambling, Itinerant Existence
In recent weeks, the gunman made gambling transactions worth tens of thousands of dollars, although it was unclear whether they were wins or losses, NBC News reported, citing unidentified law enforcement officials.
Public records point to an itinerant existence across the American West and Southeast: Florida, a few years in California, a few years in other parts of Nevada.
Lockheed Martin said that he worked for a predecessor of the company from 1985 to 1988, but offered no other details. A Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said officials there were cooperating with authorities.
Paddock had a hunting license in Texas, where he lived for a while. He got his pilot license and had at least one single-engine aircraft registered in his name.
In early 2015, he bought a modest two-story home in a new housing development for retirees on the dusty edge of Mesquite, a small desert town popular with golfers and gamblers that straddles Nevada’s border with Arizona.
“It’s a nice, clean home and nothing out of the ordinary,” Quinn Averett, a Mesquite police department spokesman, told reporters on Monday. Some guns and ammunition were found inside, though nothing remarkable in a region where gun ownership is high.
Roughly an hour’s drive southwest is Las Vegas, where Paddock checked into a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino last Thursday with at least 10 rifles for a shooting spree that would kill least 58 people and hurt more than 500.
The FBI said he had no connection with international terrorist groups.
Before moving to Mesquite, Nevada, he lived in another town called Mesquite in Texas, where he worked as the manager of an apartment complex called Central Park. The Washington Post reported that he had also worked as an accountant and had real estate investments.
Records as recent as 2015 list Paddock as single, though it appears he may have married while living in California in the 1980s. Police and public records said he lived with a woman in the Nevada retirement community. Authorities said she had no connection with the attack.
By Jonathan Allen and Dan Whitcomb from Reuters