Who Was The Las Vegas Shooter And What Is A “Bump Stock”?

So far, here is what we know about Stephen Paddock, and now, what is sure to come under direct political attack, the “bump stock”…
From Zero Hedge

Who Was Las Vegas Shooter Stephen Paddock And What Was His Motive

While there are still relatively few details about the man responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in US history, or his motive to kill at least 50 people and injure over 400 people, here is what we know so far, courtesy of the Telegraph and other public data sources.

The gunman behind this morning’s Las Vegas shooting, is believed to be a grandfather who lived in a remote desert home in Mestique, Nevada, reports Telegraph’s Leon Watson. Stephen Paddock, 64, was named by police as the perpetrator who left more than 50 dead. He was killed when officers blasted their way into his hotel room. Las Vegas police said they had located “numerous firearms within the room that he occupied.” Las Vegas Sheriff Lombardo said officers had confronted Paddock on the 32nd floor across the street from the concert. “There were at least 8 guns and a number of long rifles in the alleged shooter’s room”, per Las Vegas Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

Police believe Paddock, a local resident, was a “lone wolf” attacker. Lombardo did not give further details, however, on Paddock’s background or possible motivation. “We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor.”

Recordings of the attack suggested that Paddock used an automatic weapon. Paddock, who arrived at the hotel on Thursday, was found with more than 10 rifles, Lombardo said. Relatives said they knew Paddock owned guns, but believed they were legal.

Before he opened fire late Sunday, gunman Stephen Paddock lived a quiet life for years in a small town outside Las Vegas, the WaPo writes.

A retired man, Paddock often visited Las Vegas to gamble and take in concerts, his relatives said. Public records show he was a licensed pilot, who owned two planes. And he had a hunting license from Alaska. For several years, he appeared to live in Mesquite, Tex. But property records show he chose to move to another town named Mesquite in Nevada, where he bought a home in 2013 and has been living there ever since.

Paddock’s family said there was nothing in his past that would suggest violence. “We are in complete shock bewilderment and horror. We have absolutely no idea how in the world Steve did this. Absolutely no concept,” said one relative, who spoke anonymously to avoid hurting other relatives. “There was nothing secret or strange about him.”

Family members said that Paddock spent much of his retirement in recent years staying in hotels in Las Vegas and gambling. They said he listened to country music and went to concerts at Vegas hotels.

Las Vegas police said authorities were in the process of searching Paddock’s home in Mesquite, Nev., on Monday morning. Quinn Averett, a spokesman for Mesquite Police in Nevada said Paddock was unknown to local authorities in the city where he owns a home 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Mesquite police have no recorded interactions with Paddock. Las Vegas police said this about Lombardo.

“We have no investigative information or background associated with this individual that is derogatory,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said. “The only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago, that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.”

* * *

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the brother of the Las Vegas shooter said that he was a normal guy who must have “snapped.” Eric Paddock said that ‘something happened’ to make his brother Stephen kill at least 50 people and injure 200. Eric said that there was ‘absolutely no indication he could do something like this’ and said that Stephen had no political or religious affiliation.

He said: ‘He was just a guy. Something happened, he snapped or something’. Speaking from his home in Orlando, Florida, Eric said: ‘We know absolutely nothing, this is just, we are dumbfounded. We have absolutely no idea. Our condolences go to the victims and all their families’.

Eric said that he and Stephen, 64, lived on different coasts – Stephen’s last address was in Mesquite, Nevada – and that they did not speak that often. He said that his mother was ‘in shock’ and struggling to cope with the news.

He said: “Our family is OK, we’re sitting in here in our house hoping that everyone doesn’t attack us.”

‘He’s my brother, we don’t have a very close relationship but we talk occasionally. There’s no rhyme or reason here, it makes no sense’. He said: ‘She has nothing to do with this, at least from my perspective. ‘He was just a guy. Something happened, he snapped or something, he was just a guy.

‘He has no political affiliation, no religious affiliation, as far as we know. This wasn’t a terror attack’.

Separately, Eric Paddock told CBS News his brother was “not an avid gun guy at all”. He added: “The fact that he had those kinds of weapons is just… where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that.

“He’s a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite and drove down and gambled in Las Vegas.”


* * *

In the latest police update, Las Vegas undersheriff Kevin McMahill confirmed that Stephen Paddock died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police made entry to his Las Vegas hotel room. He also confirmed that Paddock, who is believed to have checked into the hotel on Thursday, had more than 10 guns.

McMahill added that Marilou Danley is overseas and that officers have made contact with her. She is believed to be Australian and of Indonesian origin.

Where was he from?

Paddock is reported to have lived in a retirement village in Mesquite, Nevada, since June 2016 and was born on April 9, 1953. It is claimed he previously lived in Reno, Nevada, from 2011 to 2016, and also had an address in Melbourne, Florida, from 2013 to 2015. He has also lived in Henderson, Nevada, and several locations in California since 1990, it is reported.

Mesquite is located about 80 miles, or an hour and 16 minutes, away from Las Vegas, along Nevada’s border with Arizona. Mesquite, a city in Clark County, is home to about 17,400 people, including several retirement communities, along with casinos and golf courses.

Did he act alone?

Despite initial reports of multiple gunmen, police do not believe at this time that there were any other attackers. Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, described Paddock as a “lone wolf”. Officers were initially seeking his traveling companion – Marilou Danley – who has now been located. She is believed to have been his roommate, however the police have since announced they do not believe she was involved in the shooting.

At this stage, Paddock does not have any known ties to terrorist organization and no motive has been put forward. When asked by a reporter if it was an act of terrorism, Sheriff Lombardo said: “No, not at this point. We believe it was a local individual. He resides here locally.

“I’m not at liberty to give you his place of residence yet, because it’s an ongoing investigation, we don’t know what his belief system was at this time. … Right now we believe he is the sole aggressor at this point and the scene is static.”

Was Paddock known to authorities?

NBC reports that he was. But public records do not show any criminal convictions for Paddock in Nevada. Mesquite Police told CBS News that he was not known to them, and that he lived in a retirement community, is a white male and wasn’t a military veteran.

What was his motive?

He was not believed to be connected to any militant group, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “We’ve located numerous firearms within the room that he occupied.”

How did he die?

According to Las Vegas undersheriff Kevin McMahill, Stephen Paddock died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police made entry to his Las Vegas hotel room. He also confirmed that Paddock, who is believed to have checked into the hotel on Thursday, had more than 10 guns.

A chronic gambler?

Paddock had made significant gambling payments in recent weeks. Officials say that Paddock’s payments were in the tens of thousands, but it was not clear whether those were losses or wins. His former neighbours in Florida, Don and Sharon Judy, said that Paddock was a “night owl” who spent his evenings gambling.

“He did video gambling when he was here,” Mrs Judy said. “He showed me one time on his iPhone how he had just won $20,000.” She added that he said he “gambled for a living”.

A history of family crime?

Paddock’s father – Benjamin Paddock – was a convicted bank robber and on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list after escpaing from prison in 1968 and on the run for 10 years.

As AP adds, Benjamin Paddock was a notorious bank robber who tried to run down an FBI agent with his car in Las Vegas in 1960 and was on the agency’s most wanted list after escaping from a federal prison in Texas in 1968. Paddock was a teen when an FBI poster issued after the escape said his father Benjamin Hoskins Paddock had been “diagnosed as psychopathic.”

the Elder Paddock was described decades ago by the FBI as a “glib, smooth-talking” con man who enjoyed gambling, umpiring prison sports games and playing bridge. Paddock was 7 and the oldest of four children when his father was arrested for a string of Phoenix bank robberies.

Neighbor Eva Price took the boy swimming while FBI agents searched the family home. She told the Tucson Citizen at the time: “We’re trying to keep Steve from knowing his father is held as a bank robber. I hardly know the family, but Steve is a nice boy. It’s a terrible thing.” Paddock’s father went by the nicknames “Big Daddy,” ″Chromedome” and “Old Baldy.”

Before the robberies, he served prison time in Illinois for stealing a car, engaging in a confidence game and conspiring to pass bad checks. He was in prison for the first three years of his oldest son’s life.

The FBI warning about the elder Paddock said he should be considered “armed and very dangerous.” He had been serving a 20-year sentence for a string of Phoenix bank robberies.


Terrorism?

In a surprising development, the Islamic State’s news agency Amaq has claimed responsibility for the concert attack, alleging that Stephen Paddock converted to Islam “months ago”. There is no evidence for these claims. This despite police in Las Vegas stating there is no link to international terrorism. Of course, with Paddock dead from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound, it will be impossible to confirm or deny this allegation.

Also from Zero Hedge

Vegas Killer Used “Bump-Stock” To Create Automatic Fire, Purchased Guns Legally

Before any information had been released about the shooter’s identity, or where and how he acquired the arsenal of 42 guns, 23 of which were eventually discovered in his hotel room, one Connecticut senator was already making headlines by exhorting Congress to “get off its ass” and pass gun-control legislation, officially marking the beginning of another contentious chapter in America’s perennial gun-control debate.

“This must stop,” Murphy said. “It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic.”

 

He added: “The thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

Shortly afterward, the White House warned lawmakers not to turn the shooting into a “political debate” about gun control before all the facts have been determined. This turned out to be a prescient, because, as the public would later learn, it appears that Steve Paddock, the shooter, purchased his guns legally.

Paddock, who was described by his brother as a millionaire real-estate investor, had no criminal history nor any history of mental illness. Before purchasing guns from two licensed dealers earlier this year, Paddock passed federally mandated background checks. In an interview with NBC, the owner of a gun dealer where Paddock purchased weapons earlier this year said ATF agents had interviewed the employee who made the sale, and confirmed that the dealer had followed all legally necessary procedures before completing the sales.

David Familglietti of New Frontier said that Paddock purchased a rifle and a shotgun in the spring and that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives interviewed the employee who handled the sale.

 

“The rifle was not fully automatic, and a shotgun isn’t capable of shooting from where he was,” Famiglietti told NBC Newswhen asked whether it was possible that the guns were used in the mass shooting.

“He’s only shopped there once, so it wasn’t someone we knew personally,” he said.

“We’re very sad about the news of this tragedy. We’re in the business of selling firearms legally and took all precautions on this sale, as we do with all sales. My staff takes their job very seriously, and if there were any ‘red flags,’ the sale would have halted immediately.”

In other words, as much as lawmakers would like to feel like they’re taken action to prevent more deadly mass shootings, gun control “improvements” like mandating background checks for all gun sales – a proposal that was championed by Murphy and other Dems following last year’s shooting at the Pulse nightclub – wouldn’t have prevented Sunday’s night’s massacre.

Separately, the purchasing of fully automatic weapons has been significantly restricted in the U.S. since the 1930s, and was effectively outlawed in 1986 when the federal National Firearms Act was amended to further prohibit the transfer or possession of machine guns by civilians – though there’s an exception for weapons manufactured and registered before the law took effect. With a semi-automatic weapon, a shooter must pull the trigger once for each round fired. With a fully automatic firearm, pull the trigger once and the weapon will fire until the magazine is empty.

In Paddock’s case, tighter restrictions on gun sales likely wouldn’t have made a difference: He used a device called a “bump-stock” to convert semi-automatic rifles into automatic weaponsaccording to Bloomberg. The bump-stock device essentially replaces the gun’s shoulder rest, with a “support step” that covers the trigger opening. By holding the pistol grip with one hand and pushing forward on the barrel with the other, the shooter’s finger comes in contact with the trigger. The recoil causes the gun to buck back and forth, “bumping” the trigger.

Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic. Bump stocks, gat cranks and other types of weapons-modification tools exist in a legal grey area; they’re widely sold, but not strictly legal. Paddock had two bump stocks, according to investigators who spoke with the AP under the condition of anonymity.

The devices have attracted scrutiny in recent years from authorities.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has long railed against them. Several years ago, she told The Associated Press she was concerned about the emergence of new technologies that could retrofit firearms to make them fully automatic.

“This replacement shoulder stock turns a semi-automatic rifle into a weapon that can fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute,” she said.

Police have yet to determine whether Paddock purchased the bump stocks legally or not.

Meanwhile, as NBC reports, a second firearms dealer – the owner of a shop called Guns & Guitars –  confirmed to the ATF that Paddock had passed federally mandated background checks.

Christopher Sullivan, general manager of Guns & Guitars, did not say what weapons Paddock, who lived in Mesquite, had bought.

“All necessary background checks and procedures were followed, as required by local, state, and federal law. He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time,” Sullivan said in a statement.

“We are currently cooperating with the ongoing investigation by local and federal law enforcement in any way we can,” he said, adding, “We mourn for this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the lost and injured.”

At least three other gun shops and ranges in the Las Vegas area said they had been in contact with law enforcement about Paddock but declined to discuss any purchases or visits he made.

Because the federal gun-sales tracing system is woefully out of date, it could be days before authorities determine the provenance of all 23 weapons in Paddock’s arsenal.

After the Pulse shooting, Democratic lawmakers staged a series of sit-ins and other demonstrations meant to draw attention to their push to pass gun control. However, the gun-control measures they were pushing ultimately failed. Already, some lawmakers are demanding another gun-control bill, before police have even determined how Paddock acquired his arsenal. During the shooting, which occurred late Sunday night, Paddock killed nearly 60 people, and injured more than 500, when he started firing from a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort and casino, at a distance of more than 1,200 feet from his targets – about the length of the Empire State building.