The plot thickened Wednesday in the race to find Jesus Campos, the “hero” security guard who took a shot in the leg from gunman Stephen Paddock during the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
That was more than two weeks ago and Campos, first lauded as a hero and later surrounded by controversy when the official police timeline of the event was changed, still hadn’t surfaced.
But then he did.
In the most unlikely of places – on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
“As I was walking down, I heard rapid fire. And at first I took cover, I felt a burning sensation. I went to go lift my pant leg up and I saw the blood,” Campos said in an episode airing Wednesday.
DeGeneres, in a highly scripted interview, said Campos was speaking out once and only once to tell his story so he could move on and not talk about it anymore.
“We just wanted to celebrate you. That’s why you’re here today,” she said.
It’s no coincidence Campos chose the “Ellen” show for his one and only interview.
Ellen DeGeneres is sponsored by the Mandalay Bay, and her likeness is imposed on slot machines used by MGM, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto reported.
For days, Fox News, ABC News, Newsweek and other mainstream news outlets had been reporting that Campos was missing.
But the Las Vegas Metro Police Department told WND in an exclusive phone interview Tuesday that’s not true.
Officer Larry Hatfield, spokesman for the department, said Campos was not a missing person. He blamed independent journalist Laura Loomer for driving Campos into hiding. Loomer has been asking tough questions and tweeting stories about the Vegas shooting since right after the shooting occurred.
“He’s a private citizen. Let me put it this way,” Hatfield explained. “If you were getting bombarded by media attention from people like [independent journalist] Laura Loomer, it’s your choice not to disclose your location; that is your choice. But that does not make you a missing person. And the fact that the media is reporting you are missing, that is the media, not the police.”
Loomer had this to say in a statement on her Twitter account:
“It’s rather absurd for the LVMPD to insunuate that Jesus Campos needs special protection from a petite, unarmed female investigative reporter when they have stationed an armed guard outside of his residence, while leaving Stephen Paddock’s residence open and vulnerable for robberies. It’s an easy scapegoat for the LVMPD and FBI to continue their false narrative that Jesus Campos is a victim by portraying me as a threat.”
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It is not known if Campos is currently still employed by MGM Resorts, owner of the Mandalay Bay. In fact, not much is known about him at all. What is his native country? Is he from Latin America, or could he be from the Philippines?
MGM suggested to the Las Vegas Journal Review that Campos is merely shy and doesn’t want media attention.
“Jesus Campos wants to tell his story at a time and place of his choosing. He’s asked that everyone respect his request for privacy,” MGM said in an email to the newspaper. “We could not be more proud of Jesus.”
Yet, despite the comments from the police and from MGM, the fact remains that Campos is not at his home, and nobody can say even generally where Campos may have gone to hide from the media.
Among those who are concerned is David Hickey, the president of the labor union that represents Police, Security and Fire Professionals of America. Hickey had lined up five media interviews for Campos beginning with the Sean Hannity show last Thursday night, when Campos disappeared without explanation.
“For the past four days, he’s been preparing … we had a meeting with MGM officials, and after that meeting was over, we talked about the interviews, we went to a private area, and when we came out, Mr. Campos was gone,” Hickey told reporters, according to Fox 5 Las Vegas.
“Right now, I’m just concerned where my member is, and what his condition is. It’s highly unusual,” Hickey said Friday.
“I’m hoping everything is OK with him, and I’m sure MGM or the union will let (media) know when we hear something,”
For nearly six days, nothing. Then he appears on a comedian’s talk show.
Heaping bizarre upon the bizarre
In a case that has already been marred by conflicting official narratives by police, leaked photographs, changing timelines and the lack of a motive to explain Paddock’s horrific crime, the disappearance of one of the main witnesses only ratchets up the many unproven theories being put forth by those desperate to offer some kind of explanation.
Hiding ‘voluntarily or by force’?
“At the moment, there are too many unknowns embedded within this part of an already confusing narrative to make any definitive statements about the status of Jesus Campos,” said Philip Haney, a retired immigration screening officer for Homeland Security. “However, the fact that he has gone into hiding (either voluntarily or by force), or the possibility that something even worse may have happened to Mr. Campos, suggests strongly that he has crucial information about what really happened in the Las Vegas shootings.”
As a former Florida police officer, spending a couple of years of that time directly involved in criminal investigations, Carl Gallups told WND he has never seen anything quite like the Vegas investigation, and the elements surrounding Jesus Campos are especially weird.
“The mysterious three-times-changing of the massacre timeline directly involved Campos,” Gallups said. “And now, just before Campos was scheduled to give briefings in several major media networks, he seemingly disappears. Interestingly, on the same day that Newsweek reported Campos is definitely missing, the online fact-checker Snopes insisted he is not missing. Oddly, while Snopes rails against the ‘conspiracy sites’ that claim Campos is missing, one of the most liberal and mainstream media sources in America insists he is missing and offers counter evidence to what Snopes reports.”
Already 1 witness has turned up dead
Gallups points out that Campos is not the only eyewitness to the event to disappear. The fate of the first disappearance is no longer in doubt – she’s dead.
Kymberley Suchomel, 28, died suddenly of causes as yet unknown. She had been very vocal on social media about there being more than one shooter firing on the crowd that night.
Suchomel, who was not injured during the shooting, died Oct. 9 at her home in Apple Valley, California, her grandmother, Julie Norton, told the Daily News.
Norton said she found Suchomel just after 8:30 a.m. when she arrived to care for her 3-year-old great-granddaughter, Scarlett. She believes Suchomel may have died in her sleep after her husband, Mike, left for work at 4:30 a.m.
And so, the mystery broadens. And so do the concerns, suggesting there might be something more to what Campos knows about the story.
“It is also a fact that the official investigators of the massacre know much more than what they are currently releasing to the public,” Gallups said. “This is true of almost any criminal investigation, but especially so when it involves one of this magnitude.”
‘A stunning indictment of the FBI’
Pamela Geller, a free-speech activist and founder of the Geller Report, said the one conclusion almost everyone can draw from the Vegas mass shooting is that law enforcement at the federal level cannot be trusted.
“Authorities are being so closemouthed and self-contradictory that Jesus Campos could be anything. He could be an accomplice. Or he could be a fall guy, a beard,” she said. “The fact that he has gone missing shows that what the authorities are telling us about this attack just doesn’t add up. But there is no way to be sure of anything more about him at this point.
“The whole ‘investigation’ is a stunning indictment of the FBI.”
ISIS took credit immediately for the attack and has tripled down on that claim, even though the FBI immediately announced it had no evidence of a connection between Paddock and international terrorists.
Robert Spencer, author of Jihad Watch, is also leery of anything that comes out of the FBI.
“He could be alive; he could be dead. Anything could be the case right now with regard to Campos. The FBI has changed its story on this attack so many times, nothing they say can be trusted,” Spencer said. “I hope Campos is alive, but what his real role was in this attack is anybody’s guess at this point.”
Timothy Furnish, author of several books on Islam and who blogs at the Occidental Jihadist, said it would behoove Campos to make a public appearance, and soon.
“This story just gets stranger and stranger. … He’s alive, I’d wager,” Furnish told WND. “But he would seem to have something to hide. Was he not as heroic as originally claimed? Or was he even possibly colluding with Paddock, if only in a ‘look the other way’ fashion?”