Investigators remove bodies from the the scene of the mass shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas strip. Inset: An undated photo of gunman Stephen Paddock.
Investigators remove bodies from the the scene of the mass shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas strip. Inset: An undated photo of gunman Stephen Paddock. Chris Carlson

Searching for a motive

THE motivation of the man who opened fire on a Las Vegas outdoor music festival in the worst mass shooting in US history, 64-year-old retiree Stephen Paddock, remains a mystery.

The Nevada resident was found dead when a SWAT team stormed his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino, from which he rained bullets down on the country music concert on Sunday night, local time.

Las Vegas sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters that the shooter took his own life when authorities entered.

Officers found an arsenal of at least 20 rifles inside the hotel room, the New York Times reported. An AR-15 assault rife was among the cache of weapons found, according to law officials.

Two of the rifles had scopes on tripods that were positioned in front of the two windows that had been broken out.

Mr Paddock had been staying at the hotel since Thursday, September 28.

From the city of Mesquite, north-east of Las Vegas, he had no criminal history on federal, state or local records, except for a minor citation.

Mr Paddock reportedly had no political or religious affiliations, he was university educated, he worked as an accountant or auditor before his retirement, and he was a licensed pilot who owned two planes.

Police are yet to determine the motive for Mr Paddock's attack, in which he killed at least 59 and injured at least 527 more.

"Right now, we believe it's a sole actor, a lone-wolf-type actor,” Mr Lombardo said.

"We have no idea what his belief system was.”

Islamic State claimed the attack, saying the shooter had converted to Islam months ago, SITE Intel Group posted.

Aaron Rouse of the Federal Bureau of Investigation rubbished IS's claim, telling reporters that investigators had found "no connection to an international terrorist group”.

While the shooter appears not to have had any previous run-ins with the law, his father was Benjamin "Chromedome” Paddock, a bank robber who was on the FBI's 10-most-wanted list during the 1960s.

A wanted poster from 1969, after Mr Paddock snr had escaped a Texas prison, described him as a "psychopathic” who had "suicidal tendencies and should be considered armed and very dangerous”. He was eventually captured in 1978.

Stephen Paddock was reportedly a big gambler, with police and a casino executive telling NBC News he had made several large transactions in recent weeks.

Authorities searched Mr Paddock's Mesquite home, 90 minutes' drive from Las Vegas, on Monday.

He lived in Sun City, an upscale retirement community for those aged 55 and over that included an 18-hole golf course and outdoor swimming pools, USA Today reports.

Mesquite police officer Quinn Averett told reporters it was a "nice, clean home, nothing out of the ordinary”.

Officers uncovered weapons and ammunition.

The shooter's brother, Eric Paddock, told NBC News he had "no idea” why he had committed the massacre.

"Mars just fell into the earth,” he said. "We're completely dumbfounded.

"We are completely at a loss.”

Eric, a Florida resident, said his brother was "just a guy” who "snapped or something”.

"As far as we know, Steve was perfectly fine,” Eric said.

He said his brother liked to go to Vegas to gamble, see shows and "eat burritos”.



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