Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock went to great lengths to plan and cover up his attack at a country music festival. According to new documents the gunman was intent on thwarting the eventual investigation.
While no motive or any co-conspirators were revealed in federal court documents unsealed last week, the New York Times reports that Paddock tried to hide or destroy digital media, used at least three cell phones including one prepaid phone and relied on anonymous communication devices in attempt to keep his plan a secret and throw off the investigation.
F.B.I. search warrants reveal that the agency was not able to unlock one of the three phones but they believe if there was any information relating to a conspiracy it’d be found within it. Prior to the attack, Paddock spent about 12 months purchasing weapons, ammunition and accessories used in the attack online. Glass cutters, suit cases, a gas mask and body armor were amongst the other accessories authorities found in his Mandalay Bay hotel room after he was killed on Oct. 1.
The gunman’s girlfriend Marilou Danley remains an important person in the investigation, if only to provide more detail about his actions and mental state leading up to the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. Danley has not been charged, but did tell law enforcement they’d find her fingerprints on his ammunition as she would occasionally help him load magazines. According to the Times, “the F.B.I. said there was no evidence that she knew of his plans or had been deceptive, but it cautioned soon after the shootings that she was still the ‘subject of intensive review.'” Danley was out of the country at the time of the shooting. She’d later tell investigators Paddock’s physical and mental health had been deteriorating.
Authorities have focused on her social media accounts, and the new documents reveal she took her Facebook page private just two-and-a-half hours after the shooting, and deleted it two hours after that. A search of Paddock’s email accounts reveal two that exchanged messages about bump stocks, a device used in the shooting. However authorities believe both belonged to him.
“Investigators have been unable to figure out why Stephen Paddock would be exchanging messages related to weapons that were used in the attack between two of his email accounts,” documents read.
Fifty eight people were killed and 500 injured when Paddock opened fire during Jason Aldean‘s festival closing set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. After several minutes of gunfire Paddock turned the gun on himself.