Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock wired US$100,000 to an account in the Philippines, his girlfriend’s home country, days before he committed the worst mass shooting in modern US history, NBC News reports, citing law enforcement officials.
Officials have confirmed that Marilou Danley was in the Philippines on Sunday when the 64-year-old retiree opened fire on a crowd attending a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 59 people and injuring hundreds, but it was not known whether the money was for her or her family or if Paddock had intended to flee there.
Paddock ended Sunday night’s shooting spree by killing himself.
Officials are awaiting the return of Danley, 62, to the United States on Wednesday. She had traveled to Hong Kong on Sept. 25.
“We anticipate some information from her shortly,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. “She is currently a person of interest.”
Paddock’s brother Eric Paddock, who appeared to be still in shock, suspected the money was intended for Danley.
“One hundred thousand dollars isn’t that huge amount of money,” he said. “Condemn Steve for gambling. Steve took care of the people he loved. He made me and my family wealthy.”
Paddock may have “manipulated her so that she was far away from this and had money”, Eric Paddock added. “As he was descending into hell … he wanted to take care of her.”
Meanwhile, senior law enforcement officials told NBC News that Paddock gambled with at least US$160,000 in the past several weeks at Las Vegas casinos, based on the casinos’ currency transaction reports.
Officials said Paddock left an arsenal of 49 guns but no clear clues as to why he staged the attack from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
Federal, state and local investigators have found no evidence that Paddock had even incidental contacts with foreign or domestic extremist groups, and reviews of his history show no underlying pattern of lawbreaking or hate speech, Reuters quoted a senior US homeland security official as saying.
“We cannot even rule out mental illness or some form of brain damage, although there’s no evidence of that, either,” the official said.
Paddock had set up multiple cameras around the hotel room from which he launched his attack, Lombardo said.
Eric, the gunman’s brother, said he was mystified by the attack.
“It just makes less sense the more we use any kind of reason to figure it out,” Eric Paddock said in a text message on Tuesday. “I will bet any amount of money that they will not find any link to anything … he did this completely by himself.”
He said the family did not plan to hold a funeral for his brother, who was not religious, saying it could attract unwanted attention. He described his brother as a financially well-off enthusiast of video poker and cruises, with no history of mental health issues.
The gunman seemed unlike the troubled, angry young men who experts said have come to embody the mass-shooter profile in the US, Reuters said.
Public records on Paddock point to an itinerant existence across the US West and Southeast, including stints as an apartment manager and aerospace industry worker. He appeared to be settling in to a quiet life when he bought a home in a Nevada retirement community a few years ago.
President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that Paddock had been “a sick man, a demented man”.
Police said they had no other suspects.
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