LAS VEGAS — The record for “Deadliest Mass Shooting” in U.S. history has sadly once again been broken by a man from Florida.
Stephen Paddock, 64, killed at least 50 people and sent 400 to the hospital Sunday evening after firing on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino with his rifles. (Paddock had more than 10 rifles in his room at the resort, where he had stayed since Thursday.)
Paddock killed himself before he could be apprehended by police.
The shooting spree has left many who know Paddock stunned, with family and neighbors insisting that the retired accountant had shown no signs of being capable of such destructive behavior.
“We are completely dumbfounded,” said the shooter’s brother Eric Paddock from his home just east of Orlando. “We can’t understand what happened.”
Eric Paddock went on to state that his brother had never been violent or mentally ill and had no ties to any military groups, either foreign or domestic. He did acknowledge that his brother owned guns, but no automatic weapons or anything that would suggest any particular militancy.
“He’s never even drawn his gun before,” Eric said. “He’s just a guy.”
Don Judy and Sharon Judy, Paddock’s next-door neighbors in Viera, Florida (where the gunman lived before retiring to Nevada 2 years ago) described a “trusting” man who handed over keys to his house on his first meeting with Don, requesting that his neighbor watch the home while he traveled to Las Vegas to gamble, a regular hobby of his according to the Judys. Paddock also invited Don to borrow anything from the house he needed.
“He was friendly all the time,” Sharon said.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo was equally in the dark, saying that he did not know Paddock’s “belief system.” No motive for the shooting has been released by the authorities.
Police believe that Paddock worked alone, but have nonetheless sent alerts in search of a “companion” of Paddock, a 62-year-old woman named Marilou Danley who is described as a person of interest. Lombardo stated she could possibly be a “roommate” of Paddock’s.
Unexpected though it may be, this isn’t the Paddock family’s first run-in with the law. Eric and Stephen’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was at one point on the FBI’s most-wanted list. The elder Paddock was a bank robber who was sent to (and—at one point—escaped from) prison for his misdeeds. He died in 1998.
It’s another unfortunate tie to mass shootings for the Sunshine State.
Last June, Fort Pierce’s Omar Mateen, opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando and killed 49 people and wounded 58 others.
At the time it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Paddock’s attack has, tragically, set a new record.