The gunman in Sunday’s Las Vegas mass shooting had amassed an arsenal of at least 42 guns, a batch of potentially explosive chemicals, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, police said Monday. He was also equipped with a device that effectively converts semi-automatic weapon into an automatic, allowing rapid-fire of bullets with one pull on the trigger.
At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Las Vegas law enforcement officials offered new details about the hours leading up to Stephen Paddock’s deadly assault on a country music festival from his 32nd floor hotel room.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo described the shooting as “extensively premeditated” and noted that “the shooter evaluated everything he did.”
“It appears he had significant surveillance set up,” Lombardo told reporters, including a camera set up on a service cart. Paddock ordered room service before the shooting, he said.
He also said that Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend who is currently in the Philippines, is being considered as a “person of interest.” Lombardo said that authorities had been in touch with the Philippines government and that the FBI is working on returning Danley to the United States for questioning.
Paddock reportedly wired $100,000 to an account in the Philippines in the week before the massacre.
Lombardo also addressed the existence of several graphic photos, purportedly of Paddock’s hotel room, that surfaced online, saying an internal investigation is underway.
Authorities have yet to find a motive for the attack outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which killed 59 people and injured 527 more in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. At least 45 of those wounded are in critical condition, hospital officials said Tuesday.
Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant, was found dead in his hotel room on the 32nd floor surrounded by 23 guns, including a handgun and some rifles equipped with scopes. A search of his house in Mesquite, Nevada, uncovered another 19 firearms and ammunition, according to police.
The rapid gunfire that Paddock unleashed led many to speculate earlier that he was using a bump-stock, a device that attaches to semi-automatic rifles, turning them into fully automatic weapons. That speculation was supported by an audio analysis of the gunfire, which concluded that Paddock fired 90 rounds in just 10 seconds — faster than a human being is physically capable of pulling a trigger repeatedly.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday he had two of the devices in the hotel room and used them during the shooting.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill seeking to ban bump-stocks and similar devices in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The bill was defeated in the senate. Bump-stocks, also trademarked as “Slide Fires” are sold on hunting equipment giant Cabela’s for nearly $170 apiece, and advertised as “Freedom Unleashed” and “safe, fun and legal.”
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said several pounds of ammonium nitrate was found in Paddock’s car, and the chemical tannerite was found in his house. Both are key materials for homemade explosives.
Officials said they also uncovered “electronic devices” but did not elaborate.
Paddock opened fire on concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival from his hotel room just after 10 p.m. local time. He killed himself before police forced entry into his room around midnight.
ISIS said on Monday that Paddock was acting in the group’s name, but experts remain skeptical. And the FBI said Monday that there’s currently no connection between the shooter and international terrorism.
The massacre has pushed the gun control debate to the forefront of American politics once again, especially since Nevada has some of the most lenient gun control laws in the country.
Days before the tragedy in Las Vegas, a group advocating for gun control threatened to sue Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval because he vetoed a bill that would have created mandatory background checks on prospective gun owners.
Don Turner, president of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, an NRA affiliate, described Nevada’s gun laws to VICE News as “libertarian” and “not very restrictive.”
Paddock was just one of an estimated 7.7 million Americans who qualify as gun “super-owners,” meaning they own between eight and 140 firearms.