"You're Crazy Professor...But It Might Just Work!"

Mandalay Bay Mass Shooting in 2017

June 10, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
"You're Crazy Professor...But It Might Just Work!"
Mandalay Bay Mass Shooting in 2017
Chapters
"You're Crazy Professor...But It Might Just Work!"
Mandalay Bay Mass Shooting in 2017
Jun 10, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
Craig Jackson
What were the reasons behind the most deadly mass shooting in US history?
Show Notes Transcript

Over 600 days since the Mandalay Bay Mass Shooting, which was the most deadly mass shooting in US history, the reason and motive behind the killer's actions are still not understood. Looking deeper into the case and the background of the killer, there is another possible theory that may explain what happened...

Speaker 2:
Speaker 2:
0:10
Welcome to the You're Crazy Professor . . . But It Might Just Work amazing podcast. Episode four, The Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Mass Shooting.
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0:18
In this podcast, we look at what we know about the the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay mass shooting, the most deadly mass shooting in US history, and we try and understand why the shooter did what they did. To this day the FBI admit that they do not know the reason behind Paddock's actions other than they assume he wanted to gain infamy from a mass fatality shooting.
Speaker 2:
0:46
We try and look a little bit further into this case.
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0:53
Friday the 24th of May, 2019 marked, the 600th day since the route 91 harvest music festival mass shooting occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday the 1st of October, 2017. The FBI and Nevada authorities have still not established why 64 year old Stephen Paddock committed the worst mass shooting in US history from the window of his hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which killed 58 concertgoers below. Paddock's movements in the week before the tragedy have been captured in several hours of CCTV and mobile phone records, and they suggest his motive for the mass shooting could be quite different from what is typically seen among mass killers.
Speaker 2:
1:39
I've spent almost a decade studying mass killing incidents, especially spree shooters, trying to find any commonalities and patterns among the backgrounds, motives and actions of those who choose to kill innocent civilians to make their points. The Las Vegas mass shooting is beset by many numbers and statistics. Over the course of the six days leading up to the shooting, Paddock smuggled 24 weapons into his two hotel suites. He opened fire on 22,000 concertgoers from the window of suite 135 on the 32nd floor of the hotel. He fired in excess of 1,100 rounds between 22:05 and 22:15, he only used two weapons from his arsenal, and leftover 5,000 unused rounds in his suite.
Speaker 2:
2:32
A total of 58 people died and a further 851 people were injured by gunfire. Paddock conducted his attack from one of two suites he was occupying at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, that he was given as a courtesy by the hotel as he was a proficient video poker gambler, well known for gambling around 20,000 pounds per night in the casino on some occasions. Paddock used a heavy hammer to break two windows in his suite overlooking the route 91 harvest music festival concert below in the nearby showgrounds, just 450 yards away from the hotel. He commenced fire at 22:05 with 12 distinct burst of gunfire. In addition to shooting at concertgoers, Paddock also fired eight bullets at a large jet fuel tank located at McCarran international airport, 600 meters away on the other side of the concert venue from where he was positioned. Two of those bullets struck the exterior of the tank with one bullet penetrating the tank, which failed to ignite the kerosene contents inside. During the shooting, a hotel security guard who approached Paddock's suite was shot through the door into the hallway. Thankfully the guard survived his injury. Armed police entered Paddock's suite at 23:20, over one hour after the firing ceased, to find paddock dead, having shot himself with the one handgun he had in his arsenal.
Speaker 2:
3:59
Paddock was quite old for a mass shooter at 64 years, as typically US mass shooters are aged somewhere between their late teens and early forties. It is quite unusual to see a mass shooter in their mid-sixties. Paddock was also like other mass shooters in many other respects. He was not bearing a grudge against any authorities or organisations at the time. He was not politically motivated and he was not struggling to cope with any significant difficulties in his personal life. Paddock had a long-term girlfriend and a family - a brother and a mother - and he was financially very well off with a personal fortune of just over 2 million US dollars which allowed him to retire early and spend a lot of his time playing high stakes video poker in many casinos. He certainly did not fit the typical psychological and demographic profiles of a typical grudge-based mass shooter and this lack of apparent motive stymied the FBI investigators, who were trying to find the reason behind what he did.
Speaker 2:
5:02
On the 3rd August, 2018 Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo told a press conference coinciding with the release of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Criminal Investigative Report of the shooting that the ten month investigation had revealed no evidence of conspiracy or a second gunman and that the gunman's motive had not been definitively determined. Sheriff Lombardo also said that, and I quote, "We have been able to answer the questions of who, what, when, where and how. We have not been able to definitively answer why Stephen Paddock committed this act". The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit report in January 2019 stated that , quote, "There was no single or clear motivating factor for the mass shooting" in their key list of findings in the report. The FBI found that Paddock had no identifiable grievance but did have a desire to die by suicide. The report stated that Paddock was not motivated by a grievance against any particular Las Vegas Casino or hotel, nor was it against the route 91 harvest music festival or anyone killed or injured in the rampage.
Speaker 2:
6:15
The FBI determined his attack was neither directed, inspired or enabled by ideological motivated persons or groups and they concluded by stating that Paddock's actions were inspired by obtaining, quote "A certain degree of infamy, via a mass casualty attack and that he was planning a suicide is he experienced a decline in mental and physical health and his finances over the last years of his life". The account given by the FBI about Paddock's decline is seemingly at odds with those given by his girlfriend, his brother and others who knew him. He was certainly far from impoverishment. Looking at his movements captured in the week before the shooting, mostly from mobile phone records and hotel CCTV, they strongly suggest that perhaps the route 91 music festival was not Paddock's originally intended target and it was a second choice for him. A summary of Paddock's movements that week are thus:
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7:15
Monday 25th September. Paddock Checked into suite 32-135 at the Mandalay Bay hotel and the adjoining side-room 32-134 via the VIP desk service. He spent two hours in the sushi bar there before unloading five cases from his minivan and taking them to his suite via the service elevator. He spent four hours in the suite before leaving the Mandalay Bay hotel at 21:40 with two suitcases in his minivan. He drove one hour to his home in Mesquite, northeast of Las Vegas where he then stayed overnight.
Speaker 2:
7:53
Tuesday 26th September. Paddock spent most of the day at his home and at 20:00 hours, drove back towards Las Vegas but stopped at The Ogden Hotel complex on the way. Paddock had previously checked into some rooms there on Friday the 22nd of September. That Friday, through to Sunday saw the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, and Paddock's computer records showed that he had searched online for the festival lineup and details of the acts who were performing there. In the evening on Tuesday, Paddock returned to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and moved seven more suitcases up to his suite. This now made a total of 12. He then gambled in a casino for eight hours overnight into Wednesday morning.
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8:41
Wednesday 27th September. During Paddock's overnight gambling stint, like the rest of his time at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, his interactions were limited just to hotel staff. He spent most of Wednesday in his suite and left the Mandalay Bay Hotel with two suitcases and drove back to The Ogden, and then on to his home in Mesquite and stayed overnight.
Speaker 2:
9:06
Thursday 28th September. Paddock drove from his home to a gun store in Mesquite and he purchased a .308 bolt action rifle, which he then took to a nearby gun range and fired. Paddock drove back to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and took a white container and three more cases up to his suites. He then gambled overnight in the high stakes section of the casino into Friday morning.
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9:29
Friday 29th September. Paddock stayed in his suite until 15:00 then checked into his adjoining suite using the name of his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who he had just wired $100,000 to, while she was visiting her family in the Philippines. The size of the transaction was nothing unusual for Paddock as he had done this before. Paddock instructed room service staff to leave any subsequent food trolleys in his room. He would later go on to place a baby monitor camera on the trolleys and place them in the hallway outside his suite so he could view who was approaching his rooms.
Speaker 2:
10:07
Later that evening Paddock drove home to Mesquite and stayed there overnight. At 20:00 that evening, the route 91 harvest music festival opened in the showgrounds opposite the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
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10:20
Saturday 30th September. Leaving home very early, Paddock drove back to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and arrived there at around 06:00 with two more cases that he took up to his suite. Sometime after 12:00 he placed a "do not disturb" sign on his door and declined any further housekeeping services. He went back downstairs to the valet car park and retrieved a further two bags that he took back up to his suites. He then gambled some more in the Casino. Paddock made a final trip back to his home that night and returned to the Mandalay Bay Hotel at 03:00 on Sunday.
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11:00
Sunday 1st October. Paddock gambled until 07:37 in the morning and headed back to his suites. At 12:16 he went to the hotel parking garage and brought two cases and a small bag into his suites.
Speaker 2:
11:14
This now totalled 21 cases, a laptop, a small bag, and a white container all within his rooms. The last time Paddock was captured on CCTV was at 12:29 as he left the elevator on floor 32. Electronic records show that he spent several hours in these suites opening and closing the doors between both suites repeatedly before deploying the food trolleys with the baby camera outside his door, and deadbolted the door to his suite at 21:36.
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11:47
The details of the attack and the movements of Paddock in the week beforehand give many clues about what he may have originally intended to do. It seems quite apparent that Paddock spent the week making several trips in his van, moving an arsenal of weapons, a few cases at a time from The Ogden Hotel to the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It seems quite likely given Paddock's online actions and his booking intoThe Ogden week before that he had an interest in the Life is Beautiful festival.
Speaker 2:
12:16
This interest may possibly have been because it was selected as the original target for his attack or perhaps it was for a dry run to check the logistics of smuggling his arsenal into a downtown hotel. The three day Life is Beautiful festival was an event with many different types of music and shows without any political or social drivers other than promoting positive economic development in downtown Las Vegas. The festival was not affiliated with any particular cultural movement and the hundreds of acts and headliners were so varied as to make the festival not representative or partisan to any particular type of music, lifestyle or culture. It was also a festival that was held at several different venues and locations concurrently in downtown Las Vegas and this is perhaps what made Paddock decide not to conduct his attack there. As a target, the Life is Beautiful festival was too difficult for him to attack with any success. The Life is Beautiful festival was very different logistically from the route 91 harvest music festival that would occur in one single location, which was an open air show ground, conveniently situated 450 meters away from the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Speaker 2:
13:34
For someone like paddock who was not a proficient marksman or accomplished shooter, the Life is Beautiful festival was too nebulous to be a worthwhile target given his limited abilities, but the route 91 harvest music festival was a much easier target for him. For Paddock, he was clearly motivated by achieving maximum carnage, clearly suggested by the unnecessarily large size of his smuggled arsenal, and that he took the risk of moving it all to another hotel. The layout of the Life is Beautiful festival would not help Paddock achieve maximum carnage. The route 91 harvest festival, however, occupied 15 acres and with a very high concentration of people in that space, it was clearly worth the risk to Paddock to move his arsenal over there. Many mass casualty spree shooters have used distraction techniques when conducting their attacks, often creating an explosion or fire at a secondary location away from their main location, thereby keeping local emergency services and armed responders busy elsewhere.
Speaker 2:
14:39
Other attackers have used fires or explosions as a way to flush people out of a building or venue and to funnel them into the path of the attacker, enabling them to achieve maximum fatality and casualties. Paddock's minivan was subsequently found to contain sufficient levels of ammonium nitrate as well as 23 kilos of an explosive known as Tannerite, but when found they had not been assembled in to any working viable explosive device. Paddock's van also contained a further 1600 rounds of ammunition. The inclusion of this equipment being left behind in the van suggests Paddock may have had need for it at the original attack site at the Life is Beautiful festival, but there was no need for a distraction explosion at the route 91 festival, given its proximity to the base and the layout described earlier. In Paddock we saw a wealthy older male, retired and active, and in good health with no obvious grudges or grievances against society, and no desire to take revenge against his community.
Speaker 2:
15:43
He spent his days playing high stakes poker and occasionally legally purchasing weapons whilst not being a keen shooter himself. His relationship with his girlfriend was stable and he bought her a surprise airline ticket to the Philippines two weeks before the attack and then transferred one hundred thousand dollars to her so she could buy a house. His only interaction with the police had ever been for a minor traffic infringement years ago that was settled out of court. He held a pilot's license and friends described him as generous, methodological and intelligent. Paddock was taking common anti-anxiety medication, Valium, in the months before the attack, but such minor psychological issues are mitigated by the fact that Paddock was amassing guns long before he was taking any medication. Paddock's gun purchases increased between October, 2016 and September, 2017 and he legally purchased a total of 55 firearms, mostly rifles and a number of firearm accessories, although he had been buying selling firearms legally since 1982. Could this historical pattern of firearm purchases and stockpiling suggest that Paddock had somehow thought that this is something he would one day do? Just as some people believe that one day they will end their own lives or one day they will die in an accident. Maybe Paddock hadfatalistically decided that one day he would undertake a spree.
Speaker 2:
17:16
Could it be that Paddock was growing board of a life without any meaningful purpose or labor? Perhaps he was finding the life of a comfortable man to be futile and without without substance. As a gambler and chancer, perhaps he simply required yet another "high", and a mass killing, and the planning and subterfuge involved could perhaps have been ideal for him and his methodological nature.
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17:42
In 1924 the novel, "The Most Dangerous Game" was written by Richard Connell and it was then made into a hit move in 1934, with many remakes and similar films made in the decades to follow. The novel told the story of a wealthy man, General Zaroff, who, bored of hunting big game, moved to an island that was infamous for shipwrecks. There, he spent his days hunting, shipwrecked sailors and tourists who happened upon his island, as if they themselves were game animals. Because of the subversive nature of the novel, it had been a touchstone of literature for many teenagers in middle schools and high schools in the US since it was published.
Speaker 2:
18:22
The idea of a wealthy man who is refined and proper, yet who also contains a desire to kill, was a suggestion by Connell that men possess deadly instincts that are only inhibited by society and law. This is not unlike like classic Freudian theory of the nature of humans of course. The killer, Zaroff, is only able to undertake his sadistic hobby because he lives outside of the parameters of the civilized world on his island. In the late 1960s letters sent to the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Police Department by the high profile Zodiac serial murderer, referenced the novel in a cryptogram including the reason behind his own crimes. One one of his ciphers when translated stated, "I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all". Similarly, a high profile serial murderer operating the 1970s and 1980s in Alaska, Robert Hanson had hunted down and killed almost 20 female victims who he kidnapped and then set free specifically for his sadistic hunting pleasure.
Speaker 2:
19:39
Distasteful as it may seem, but in the absence of any other more prosaic factors that will explain Paddock's actions, I remain convinced that he chose to do what he did for his own entertainment, excitement, and amusement. There was no grudge, no resentment, no serious psychiatric disturbance in Paddock's personal life, but the planning and execution of the shooting may have provided him with the excitement and thrill that his wealthy video poker lifestyles was no longer able to provide him. If this theory is correct, then it would place Paddock in that extremely rare category of spree killer, as one of those who were not killing because of a grudge or because of ideological reasons, but they were killing for their own pleasure and amusement and satisfaction.
Speaker 2:
20:31
Thank you for listening. I hope it'sit has been useful and informative. You have been listening to the You're Crazy Professor . . . But It Might Just Work amazing podcast.
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