The disclosures were among several new details revealed by Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who also strayed into speculation that the man believed responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history had help.
“Do you think this was all accomplished on his own?” Lombardo asked, noting the arsenal of weapons the shooter amassed, and the discovery of explosives in his car. He added: “You’ve got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point.”
He said that that the suspected killer, a 64-year-old retiree and gambler, rented a luxury room through Airbnb overlooking the Life is Beautiful music festival, another Las Vegas festival which occurred the week before the Route 91 Harvest music festival he eventually targeted.
Lombardo also said he had seen evidence that Paddock may have intended to survive his killing spree from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, which he used as a base for the attack. The sheriff did not say what the evidence was.
The remarks were made at press conference that raised as many questions than it answered and suggested that, 72 hours after the attack, after extensively interviewing Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, and examining his computers, investigators remain genuinely baffled about his motives.
Paddock’s killing spree resulted in 58 victims and injured at least 489 people, the deadliest mass shooting in the US in recent decades. The updated casualty numbers were the most recent given by authorities on Wednesday night.
Lombardo had previously said law enforcement believed Paddock had perpetrated “a solo act”. But on Wednesday, he appeared to change his position. His speculation about the possibility Paddock was aided came after an exchange in which he conceded investigators had not been able to identify any “person of interest” other than Danley.
He said investigators were, however, pressing to find others who may have been involved. It was possible that Paddock was “a super guy” who was “working out all of this on his own”, Lombardo said. But he add: “it would be hard for me to believe that”.
The comment appeared to earn a veiled rebuke from the agent overseeing the FBI’s investigation.
“Theories are great and everyone can have a theory,” said Aaron Rouse, who runs the bureau’s Las Vegas division, and took to the lectern immediately after the sheriff’s comments. “But I need to deal with facts. The sheriff needs to deal with facts.” He added: “He’s not going to make assumptions. I’m not going to make assumptions.”
Rouse said the FBI was working with “a number of theories”, but was not prepared to publicize them. Rouse was considerably more cautious in his remarks than the sheriff, refusing to reveal what Danley said after she returned to the US Wednesday from the Philippines to be questioned by agents. The FBI agent declined even to say whether Danley remains “a person of interest”.
Danley, 62, released a statement after being interviewed by FBI agents, saying she had no idea of the massacre her partner was plotting when he sent her abroad to be with her family.
“It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” she said in a statement read out by her lawyer. “He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”
Lombardo, in another surprising remark, appeared to cast doubt over those comments when he said at the press conference: “Any person put in her situation would probably answer in the same way.”
In addition to the sheriff’s speculation, there were also a handful of previously undisclosed facts revealed at the press conference, including new details about events in the days and hours leading up to the shooting.
Lombardo said that Paddock had reserved a room via Airbnb at the Ogden luxury apartment complex, which overlooked the site of the Life is Beautiful festival, an event over the previous weekend that featured acts such as Gorillaz and Lorde. The sheriff did not say when the room was booked, and said he did not know “what was in his mind”.
“Was he doing pre-surveillance?” he said. “We don’t know yet.”
Lombardo also revealed the crucial role played by a security guard, who helped locate Paddock, on the 32nd floor, just over 10 minutes after he began shooting at concertgoers. Paddock, who had set-up multiple cameras outside his room, to monitor the corridor, shot as many as 200 rounds through the door, injuring the guard.
Swat teams did not penetrate the hotel suite Paddock was using for another hour, but Lombardo stressed that there were no unintended delays. “It was purposeful,” he said, explaining that police decided to take their time to clear surrounding rooms of guests after when they realized Paddock had stopped firing.
Upon entering the room, they discovered Paddock had killed himself. Lombardo also said they discovered several containers of explosives and 1,600 rounds of additional ammunition in his car.
Lombardo described Paddock, who he revealed was gambling at the casino hours before the attack, as a “disturbed and dangerous” man had apparently led a “secret life” that left few clues about his actions.
He confirmed that investigators were exploring whether there was some incident in October 2016 that would explain why, in the year that followed, he purchased some 33 new weapons.
But he left gave the impression that Las Vegas and the FBI have been left flummoxed by the case, saying Paddock did not appear to conform to the profile of other mass murderers. “We haven’t understood it yet,” he said. “You have to be patient with us.”