Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Police seek clues to deadliest mass shooting in the US

Reuters and AFP, LAS VEGAS, Nevada

The sun rises over the US Capitol in Washington yesterday, as flags fly at half-mast to pay respect to the victims of Sunday’s Las Vegas shooting.

Photo: AP

Police yesterday sought clues to explain why a retiree with a penchant for gambling, but no criminal record set up a sniper’s nest in a high-rise Las Vegas hotel and poured gunfire onto a concert below, slaying dozens of people before killing himself.

The Sunday night shooting spree from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip killed at least 59 people before the gunman turned a weapon on himself. More than 500 were injured, some trampled, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, left no immediate hint of his motive for the arsenal of high-powered weaponry he amassed, including 34 guns, or the carnage he inflicted on a crowd of 22,000 attending an outdoor country music festival.

Paddock was not known to have served in the military, or to have suffered from a history of mental illness or to have registered any inkling of social disaffection, political discontent or radical views on social media.

US officials also discounted a claim of responsibility by the militant Islamic State group.

“We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group,” Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Las Vegas, told reporters on Monday.

Police said they believed Paddock acted alone, but were at a loss to explain what might have precipitated it.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.”

Although police said they had no other suspects, Lombardo said investigators wanted to talk to Paddock’s girlfriend and live-in companion, Marilou Danley, who he said was traveling abroad, possibly in Tokyo.

The closest Paddock appeared to have ever come to a brush with the law was for a traffic infraction, authorities said.

The death toll, which officials said could rise, surpassed last year’s record massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Paddock’s brother, Eric, described him as financially well-off and an avid enthusiast of video poker games and cruises.

“We’re horrified. We’re bewildered, and our condolences go out to the victims,” Eric Paddock said in a telephone interview from Orlando. “We have no idea in the world.”

US President Donald Trump denounced what he called “an act of pure evil” and said he would visit Las Vegas today.

However, the White House pushed back at calls to reopen the US debate on tighter gun controls.

“A motive is yet to be determined and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all of the facts or what took place last night,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

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