Another day, another bombshell dropped by the Clark County Sheriff.
At a news briefing Thursday, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said he does not believe Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock acted alone. And he hinted that there’s a lot more to the story than has been released to date – that a lone gunman acted alone to pull off the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammunition, and living a secret life, much of which will never be understood,” Lombardo said.
A secret life.
That may be the best clue yet to unraveling the killer’s motive.
Did he secretly convert to Islam?
Did he have a secret source of income that nobody is talking about?
ISIS claims Stephen Paddock did convert to Islam, but so far it has produced no evidence to back up its assertion, leading to a quick – some say too quick – public dismissal of that claim by the FBI.
But the sheriff offered his clear opinion, on day four of an investigation to which more than 100 detectives have been assigned, on whether Paddock acted alone.
“You look at the weapon obtaining. The different amounts of Tannerite. Do you think this was all accomplished on his own? Face value?” Lombardo asked. “You gotta make the assumption he had to have some help at some point. Maybe he’s a super guy that was working all this out on his own, but it would be hard for me to believe that.”
Now flash back two days to the bizarre interview Paddock’s brother, Eric, gave to local media Tuesday, two days before the sheriff’s comment about Stephen Paddock likely receiving help from others. In a rambling, 34-minute diatribe while standing outside his home, the shooter’s brother, totally unprompted, went out of his way to try to undercut the theory that his older brother had help in pulling off the attack.
“This is 100 percent Steve all by himself,” he said.
“People are saying, ‘Oh, he must have had help.’ Steve had no help. Steve didn’t need help. Steve did not take help. It did not take a village for Steve. Steve was an arm … [sounds like he was ready to spout the word ‘arms’ or ‘army’ but catches himself and stops abruptly] I’m sorry. Please don’t, I’m using, I was about to use a colloquial term that would besmudge one of the armed forces. Steve was a stand-alone guy. Steve, if you wanted to hang out with Steve, you hung out with Steve, but you had to understand that Steve was a little quirky.”
Whatever it was that Eric Paddock was about to say about his brother Stephen, he caught himself and stopped cold, mid-word.
Watch clip of shooter’s brother who came oh, so close to spilling a major revelation about his brother’s penchant for exotic weaponry:
Watch the full interview with shooter’s brother here:
A little quirky? Perhaps that was just a poor choice of words, but killing 58 complete strangers at a concert and injuring nearly 500 more certainly qualifies as something more sinister, something darker. It sounds like the FBI might want to interview Eric Paddock.
‘$100,000 isn’t that much money’ for Steve
Eric Paddock also expounded on his brother’s wealth. He said he was well known at many hotels, notorious as a high-stakes gambler and granted huge “comps” of free food and free rooms in exchange for his gambling habit.
“Someone said that Stephen transferred $100,000,” Eric Paddock said. “We’re wealthy people, $100,000 isn’t that much money, and I’m sorry if that hurts people or something. One-hundred thousand dollars isn’t that huge amount of money. He gambled that amount through a machine in hours.”
Where did all this money come from? A real-estate investment career has been mentioned, but where are the names of his real-estate companies, and where are his tenants? None have been named by anyone inside or outside of law enforcement.
‘He was a private guy’
Eric Paddock also had words about his brother’s well-guarded privacy.
“He was a private guy. That’s why you can’t find out anything about him. That’s why there’s no pictures,” he said. “Is he such a weirdo because he didn’t have a Facebook page?”
Remember, this is the same Eric Paddock who one day earlier told reporters his brother was “not a gun guy” and only owned a couple of weapons.
A secret life. Unaccounted for wealth. More questions than answers provided by police investigators.
Stephen Paddock, as reported earlier this week by WND, spent a decade working for the federal government, including six years as an IRS agent, 18 months as an auditor in the U.S. Department of Defense and three years with the giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin in the late 1980s. As a DOD auditor, he was subject to background checks and was likely granted a secret security clearance.
Besides the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Paddock reportedly also visited hotels overlooking concert venues in Chicago and Boston as well as another hotel in downtown Vegas that was booked for a “Life is Beautiful” concert.
He had a car filled with ammonium nitrate and thousands of rounds of ammunition ready and waiting for him. His plan was to escape, said Sheriff Lombardo, who refused to reveal the escape strategy with reporters Thursday, and possibly use the car as a bomb.
Steve Rogers, a former member of the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, told Fox News the shooter may have planned to go back to some of the other hotels he had scoped out to explode the car bomb or shoot more people.
There is also a question about the aviation fuel tanks located 1,100 feet from Paddock’s perch atop the Mandalay Bay. The tanks had been struck by bullets, according to a report by the Las Vegas Journal Review, but it’s unclear if Paddock had targeted those double-lined tanks in an effort to cause an explosion or if they were simply struck by random bullets.
“I find one thing he may have targeted as very attractive to provide mass casualties, and that’s those gas tanks. … He may have thought, ‘I can blast those tanks,’ and maybe that’s why he picked that venue,” Rogers said.
Then there’s the questions about Paddock hauling 13 suitcases of guns and ammo up to his hotel room, all by himself.
“It is a bit of a mystery how he got all those weapons into the hotel room, and I agree with the sheriff there must have been someone else, not necessarily in the operational stage but in the planning stage,” Rogers said.
“Again, it’s one of those mysteries – you talk to criminal investigators, and they’re all scratching their heads – but I agree with the sheriff that somebody else helped him.”
Another ‘mystery woman’
There was also a new mystery woman who emerged on day four of the investigation.
Police confirmed that a female spent multiple nights in the hotel room with Paddock leading up to the shooting. Paddock checked in on Sept. 28, three days before the shooting. The woman was not his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who was thousands of miles away in the Philippines.
The FBI no doubt is trying to locate and interview this woman.
Another day, another bombshell. But the secret life holds the clue.
And if the old adage “follow the money” holds true, the answer to the clue might lie in Paddock’s secret career in a lucrative underground network. Stay tuned …