Las Vegas Shooter’s Missing Laptop Hard Drive Could Be Clue to Motive

October 26, 2017 Updated: October 5, 2018

Almost four weeks after Stephen Paddock massacred dozens in Las Vegas, investigators lack answers to the pressing question: why did he do it? One piece of evidence, or the lack of that piece, hints it may hold some answers—the missing hard drive of Paddock’s laptop.

The laptop was found in the hotel room from where Paddock sprayed a country concert down below with hundreds of bullets, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more on Oct. 1.

Investigators say they know Paddock used a computer in preparation for the shooting. He searched the internet for details on techniques the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department SWAT teams use to breach rooms in standoff situations, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told the Wall Street Journal.

But when they found the laptop, its hard drive was missing and it hasn’t been found yet. Since Paddock’s digital and real-life footprint hasn’t clarified his motive so far, the hard drive holds some hope of providing answers.

While the whys remain opaque, the hows are becoming increasingly lucid.

Paddock is said to have prepared meticulously for the attacks, installing three cameras inside and outside the 32nd floor hotel room, including one embedded into the peephole of the hotel room door, monitoring the hallway.

The room was packed with weapons and equipment.

“So many guns. So many magazines. Stacks and stacks of magazines everywhere,” said Dave Newton, one of the police officers who entered the room. “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.”

Even the handwritten note found in the room that initially seemed to be scribbled with random numbers, was later revealed to not be random at all. Investigators believe it contained calculations of the distance and trajectory to Paddock’s target.

However, the events of the shooting are not quite settled yet. Authorities have repeatedly changed the timeline of the shooting. The latest version states Paddock shot the hotel’s security guard, Jesus Campos, about a minute before he opened fire on the concertgoers. But two New York Times video editors have reconstructed their own timeline based on available footage and recordings that indicates Campos was shot about a minute after the shooting started.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 25, Paddock’s brother Bruce was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of possessing child pornography, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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