Before Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, he saw his fortunes decline over two years, a police investigation has revealed.
Seeing his image as a big-shot gambler deteriorate may have influenced his decision to shoot and kill 58 and injure hundreds more, authorities believe.
Paddock had done well for himself managing and selling real estate. He then went into gambling, which caused his finances to swing up and down, said Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
Most recently, his wealth was going down.
“Since … September of 2015, he’s lost a significant amount of wealth and I think that might have [been] a determining factor … [in] what he determined to do,” Lombardo said in an interview with KLAS-TV’s George Knapp.
Lombardo said FBI investigators created a profile of Paddock that described him as having a “narcissistic personality” and that he was recently going through “probably some bouts of depression.”
“This individual was status driven, based on how he liked to be recognized in the casino environment and how he liked to be recognized by his friends and family,” Lombardo said. “So, obviously, that was starting to decline in a short period of time and that may have [had] a determining effect on why he decided to do what he did.”
Still, there must have been something that pushed Paddock over the edge, perhaps around October 2016 when he began collecting a large number of guns. Between Oct. 2016 and Oct. 1, 2017, he bought 33 firearms, officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have said.
“There was something that popped his trigger or caused him to go that direction and we have yet to determine what that is,” Lombardo said.
The sheriff hopes the full test results on Paddock’s brain will reveal some kind of anomaly that could shed more light on Paddock’s motivation, because the shooter was otherwise “nondescript.”
His criminal record was clean except for two traffic citations and even his online activities provided no clues.
“When we went through all his computer systems and everything else it was really nondescript,” the sheriff said.
He mentioned, though, that one of Paddock’s laptops was missing a hard drive, meaning all the data on the computer was gone, since most laptops keep their data on a single hard drive.
“We don’t know when it was removed,” he said.
Investigators haven’t found anybody who Paddock talked to about his plan, despite him possibly taking months to devise it.
“It was a thought-out, long process,” Lombardo said.
Among other preparations, Paddock avoided attention by taking several days to bring weapons and gear to the hotel room from which he shot, according to Lombardo’s assessment.
On the other hand, the shooting itself didn’t require an expertise in guns, the sheriff said.
“The fact that you have a psychotic individual, crazed individual, in possession of a high-capacity firearm shooting into a crowd—it’s fairly simple,” he said.
Lombardo said Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, is still “a person of interest” and was about to be interviewed again by investigators. So far, it seems she had no foreknowledge of the shooting, though Lombardo said he found that hard to believe, given how “robust” Paddock’s plan was.
“You would think that Ms. Danley would have some information associated with that,” he said. “But, currently, we haven’t been able to pull that out of her, if it’s in her.”