Police say they are trying to determine whether Las Vegas gunman acted alone

The girlfriend of the gunman who killed 58 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas broke her silence Wednesday and denied advance knowledge of the attack, saying that she knew Stephen Paddock as a “kind, caring, quiet” man and that she was devastated by the violence.

As President Trump and the first lady visited victims and first responders in Las Vegas, federal investigators interviewed Marilou Danley in Los Angeles, hoping Paddock’s live-in girlfriend might be able to help solve the mystery of why Paddock, 64, opened fire on the festival crowd on Sunday and then killed himself.

But Danley, who was out of the country at the time of the attack, said Wednesday that she was just as clueless.

“He never said anything to me, or took any action I was aware of, that I ever understood to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” Danley said, according to a statement read by her attorney, Matthew Lombard. She added: “I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him.”

The special agent in charge of the FBI in Las Vegas, Aaron Rouse, said the bureau has deployed more than 100 agents and other investigators across the country to help Las Vegas authorities answer questions about Paddock’s motive and whether he had help.

“We have multiple leads all across the United States and all across the world,” Rouse said. But he added: “We must focus on facts. We cannot give in to conjecture. And we cannot respond to every little Twitter feed that may indicate a theory….You expect us to be right, and we want to be right.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said investigators are trying to build a picture of Paddock that will help explain Sunday’s massacre.

“More than 100 investigators have spent the last 72 hours combing through the life of 64-year-old Stephen Paddock to produce a profile of someone I will call disturbed and dangerous,” Lombardo told reporters on Wednesday.

“What we know is, Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood.”

In the last year, Paddock, a retired real estate investor and former IRS agent, had used his apparently extensive financial resources to fund his plans for the attack while also bankrolling his longtime passion for gambling.

Since October 2016, Paddock bought 33 guns, mostly rifles, according to a law enforcement source, a haul that could have cost him tens of thousands of dollars, a spending spree that has led investigators to wonder whether something changed in Paddock’s life, and whether he was really acting alone.

“He had to have some help at some point,” Lombardo said. “Maybe he’s a super-guy. … Maybe he’s super-yahoo, was working out all this on his own, but it would be hard for me to believe that.”

Investigators also confirmed that Paddock had rented an Airbnb room in a condo building in Las Vegas in September overlooking an even larger music event, the Life is Beautiful festival, featuring Gorillaz, Lorde, Chance the Rapper and other artists.

“Was he doing pre-surveillance? We don’t know yet,” Lombardo said.

On the night before Sunday’s attack — which left nearly 500 people injured in addition to those killed — Paddock reportedly went on an eight-hour gambling binge in a special video poker room at the Mandalay Bay’s casino, according to ABC News.

Investigators found thousands of rounds of ammunition in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel room, plus more in his car, in addition to Tannerite, an explosive substance. Some of his guns had jammed during the shooting, Lombardo said.

Paddock had gambled with more than $100,000 in recent months at Nevada casinos, a law enforcement official said.

The shooting shocked Paddock’s brother Eric. But not the spending.

"We’re wealthy people. $100,000 isn’t that much money,” Eric Paddock, said in a televised interview from Florida on Wednesday. “He gambled that much through a machine in hours.”

"Steve is a — was a — highly intelligent, highly successful person. He could have done anything he wanted to do,” Eric Paddock continued. “And he did. He made himself wealthy. He made us wealthy. He was a very successful person. He gambled for 20-plus years, successfully. It’s like a job to him. He did it mathematically.”

It was also revealed Wednesday that Danley had been out of the country during the time of the attack because Paddock had bought her a “cheap” ticket to her home country of the Philippines in mid-September, according to her statement.

While she was there, he wired her money to buy a house for her family there, she said.

“Like all Filipinos abroad, I was excited to go home and see family and friends,” Danley said in a statement read by her lawyer, which came after federal agents had greeted her at Los Angeles International Airport and taken her to FBI offices for questioning.

“I was grateful [for the money to buy a house], but honestly I was worried that first the unexpected trip home, and then the money was a way of breaking up with me,” she said in her statement. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”

In a visit with victims and first responders in Las Vegas, Trump praised those who rushed into action during the massacre, and he told family members of the victims, “You are not alone. We will never leave your side.”

“We know that your sorrow feels endless,” he said. “We stand beside you to help carry your pain.”

Praising the work of police and other first responders, the president said: “Words cannot describe the bravery the whole world witnessed on Sunday night. Americans defied death and hatred with love and with courage. When the worst of humanity strikes, and strike it did, the best of humanity responds. Americans dashed into a hail of bullets to rescue total strangers.”

The remarks came at a news conference where Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were flanked by local law enforcement officials and dignitaries, including Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“We’re hurt. We’re hurt badly. But we’re not broken,” Sandoval said at the televised news conference. “The future’s going to come one day at a time. We must be glad. We must be good. We must be brave. And we must have faith.”

In an earlier public appearance at a hospital that had treated more than 100 victims from Sunday’s attack, Trump characterized the gunman as a “very sick man; he was a very demented person.”

ruben.vives@latimes.com

matt.pearce@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

Vives reported from Las Vegas and Pearce and Winton from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Laura J. Nelson in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

More national headlines

ALSO

From ‘shots fired’ to all clear: 72 minutes of terror in Las Vegas

Survivors from California recount their terrifying escape from danger in Las Vegas

Las Vegas gunman was a former IRS agent who 'preplanned extensively' for the attack


UPDATES:

8:10 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional quotes from Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

6:20 p.m.: This article was updated with news that the gunman had rented a room near an earlier music festival in Las Vegas, plus other details from the investigation.

4:35 p.m.: This article has been updated with comments from Paddock’s girlfriend, additional Trump quotes and other details.

1:15 p.m.: This story was updated with remarks from President Trump.

10:45 a.m.: This story was updated with the arrival of President Trump and other details.

This story was originally published at 9:20 a.m.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
37°