Stephen Paddock: Who was the Mandalay Bay attacker and what was his motive?

Roland Oliphant
Stephen C Paddock, 64, killed himself before armed police blasted their way into his hotel room - AFP

The man who killed at least 59 people in the United States worst ever mass shooting was a wealthy property owner and a regular in Las Vegas casinos who made a living through "gambling and speculation," it has been claimed.

People carry a person at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gunfire Credit: David Becker/Getty Images

Stephen C Paddock, 64, killed himself before armed police blasted their way into his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

Next to his body, police found an arsenal of weapons including more than ten rifles but no immediate clue telling them what drove him to open fire from his window at concert goers below. 

Stephen Paddock 

The Islamic State terror group claimed Paddock converted to Islam a few months ago, through its official Amaq news channel.

They said the attack, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, was carried out by a “soldier” of the caliphate and was done “in response to calls to target coalition countries.”

In another statement released hours later, Isil referred to Paddock by the nom de guerre Abu Abd al-Barr al-Amriki and said he answered a call to arms by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

US officials have said they are examining the claim, but are yet to find any evidence linking the shooter to any organised terrorist group.

Relatives described Paddock as “just a guy” who was never in a hurry and retired to the Nevada desert to enjoy a dry climate and Las Vegas’s casinos. 

"We can’t understand what happened," a distraught Eric Paddock, Stephen’s brother, told reporters outside his home in Orlando, Florida.

He said his brother was "not a normal guy" and "played high stakes video poker". He said his brother being named by authorities as the shooting suspect was "like if an asteroid fell out of the sky".

Las Vegas active shooter, in pictures

Eric Paddock says his brother was a multimillionaire who made much of his money investing in real estate.

He told reporters on Monday in Orlando that his brother was also an accountant for many years.

He was not aware of his brother having any recent financial difficulties.

Stephen Paddock recently sent a walking aide by post to his 90-year-old mother.

The brother says the shooter collected coins when he was a child.

"He’s not an avid gun guy at all. The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just – where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that,” he told MSNBC.

"He’s just a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down and gambled in Las Vegas. He did...stuff. Eat burritos."

An undated FBI photo of serial bank robber Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, Stephen Paddock's father Credit: Handout/ REUTERS

The family grew up in Sun Valley, California, Bruce Paddock, another of his brothers, told NBC.

Their father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a career bank robber who was on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list between 1969 and 1977, it was reported.

Stephen Paddock worked various jobs, including as an auditor at a company that later became Lockheed Martin between 1985-1988.

Family members told local media he also made a living from renting and managing apartment buildings, and he appears to have owned a string of properties in Florida, Texas, and Nevada.  

Mandalay Bay hotel shooting

Former neighbours said Paddock had said his main source of income was gambling. 

Don and Sharon Judy, who lived next door to Paddock and his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, when he owned a house in Melbourne, Florida between 2013 and 2015, said he was “very friendly” and “lived by gambling.”

Stephen Paddock's brother Eric Paddock said the family was "completely dumbfounded" Credit:  John Raoux/AP

“He was very open about that. He said he traveled all around to his different homes, that he gambled,” Mrs Judy told Florida Today. 

Mrs Judy said he had once shown her how he had won $20,000 via online gambling on his smartphone. 

Mesquite Police Department blocked access to the Sun City Mesquite community where Paddock lived Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images North America

"He said 'Marilou and I that’s what we do for a living, we gamble and we speculate,' she added. 

Citing law enforcement sources, NBC said records showed Paddock had racked up several gambling transactions in the “tens of thousands” of dollars in recent weeks. It was unclear if those were wins or losses.

Las Vegas machine gun attack

Paddock moved into a three bedroom, single storey house at the Sun City retirement community in Mesquite, a desert town of about 17,400 people 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, in 2015.  

Police were searching the home on Monday.

Neighbours said Paddock and Ms Danley kept themselves to themselves and he does not appear to have had any trouble with the police.

Broken windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, where Paddock amassed an arsenal of 20 guns Credit: David Becker/Getty Images

Joe Lombardo, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff, said local police had nothing more on him than a seven-year old citation, which had been resolved as “a normal practice in the court system."

Paddock held a pilot’s license, owned two aircraft, and had a permit to hunt in Alaska. He had several legally owned guns, but they do not appear to have been in the arsenal he amassed in his hotel room. 

People run for cover after Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival Credit: David Becker/Getty

Police say Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel last Thursday September 28, but it was unclear how he amassed his huge arsenal of weapons in the room unnoticed.  

Sherriff Lombardo said police had located Ms Danley, who is believed to be from the Philippines, “outside the country” and did not believe she was involved in the shooting.

“She was not with him when he checked in. We have discovered he was utilizing some of her identification,” he said.

Ms Danley’s LinkedIn page described her as a “Gambling & Casinos Professional” who worked at the Atlantic Casino Resort Spa in Reno between 2010 and 2013.

The terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claimed Paddock had acted on its instructions after converting to Islam several months ago. It offered no evidence for the claim.

The gunman responsible for the worst mass shooting in modern US history is believed to be a grandfather who lived in a remote desert home.

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