Nearly eight months ago, a gunman in Las Vegas opened fire on a country music festival from his hotel room window, killing 58 people and injuring 422 others. Ever since, authorities have struggled to identify a motive behind what’s been described as one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.
But new documents obtained by the Associated Press offer some glimpse into the mind of gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, who turned the gun on himself after the massacre.
The documents were released after a prolonged legal battle between AP and the Las Vegas Police Department, and contain, among other things, interviews with people who interacted with Paddock in the days and weeks leading up to the Oct. 1 shooting. People recalled Paddock railing about gun control and against the government.
One man told the FBI and police that less than one month before the massacre, Paddock responded to his online ad selling schematics which showed how to transform your semi-automatic rifle to make it fire like an automatic weapon. “Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” the man recalled Paddock saying during their meeting outside a Las Vegas sporting goods store. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”
During their meeting outside a Las Vegas sporting goods shop, the man (whose name is redacted from documents, according to AP) recalled Paddock saying that someone needed to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves.
Paddock also reportedly spouted conspiracy theories, saying for example that the FEMA camps built for refugees who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were “a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and… confiscating guns.”
Another woman recalled overhearing a man that looked like Paddock talking to another man at a restaurant in las Vegas days before the massacre. She told police that Paddock was ranting about two separate events that took place in the 1990s. One was the standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, where a right-wing activist resisting federal weapons charges moved with his family to a remote cabin, leading to an 11-day armed standoff with authorities. The other was the 51-day standoff in Waco, Texas, between a Christian cult and police, which led to the deaths of more than 80 people, including 22 children.
“I just thought ‘strange guys’,” the woman told police. “I wanted to leave.”
Cover image: The area near Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is still on police lock-down as law enforcement agencies continue to investigate the cause of the massacre after the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, that took 58 lives, October 28, 2017. Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images.