The Las Vegas Shooter Went On An Anti-Government Rant Weeks Before His Deadly Attack
A witness say Stephen Paddock went on an anti-government rant while trying to buy firearm paraphernalia weeks before killing 58 people on the Las Vegas Strip.
Just weeks before Stephen Paddock killed 58 people on the Las Vegas Strip, witnesses say he went on an anti-government tirade and said, "somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves."
"Sometimes," Paddock added, "sacrifices have to be made."
Paddock's comments are included in a vast trove of witness statements that the Las Vegas Police Department released Wednesday. The statements include hundreds of witness accounts of the Oct. 1 shooting at the outdoor concert. Paddock opened fire from his hotel room on the 32nd floor at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, injuring hundreds in addition to the 58 people he killed. He took his own life before officers could reach him.
The motive behind the shooting has remained unclear, but the newly released witness statements portray Paddock as an "odd" man who was interested in guns and angry at the government.
The comment about "sacrifices" was made in the weeks before the shooting when Paddock met a man in the parking lot of a Las Vegas Bass Pro Shop, the witness told detectives in October.
Paddock had answered the man's backpage.com ad for schematics for an auto sear, a device that allows a semiautomatic assault rifle to fire like a fully automatic gun. During their interaction, the man, whose identity was not released, told police Paddock offered to pay $500 apiece for multiple auto sears. The man also said Paddock repeatedly criticized the government — in addition to mentioning the need for a sacrifice — and "kept carrying on about, um, just, uh, anti government stuff, uh, FEMA camps."
"He said, 'That was just a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin' down doors and, um uh, confiscating guns,'" the man told detectives, adding later that Paddock "was kind of fanatical about this stuff and I just figured he's another internet nut."
The man said he refused to make the auto sears for Paddock, and ultimately backed out of the transaction altogether.
"It was pretty quick 'cause I got kind of scared off by him, you know," the man said. He later added, "I just remember the guy being so damn fanatical, you know, and getting kind of pissed at me because I wasn't, you know, doin' what he wanted."
The man was interviewed at the Clark County Jail after being arrested in the days following the shooting on unrelated charges.
Las Vegas police did not respond to BuzzFeed News' questions about the man and his recollection of Paddock.
Detectives also collected a statement from a woman who overheard what she believed was a conversation between Paddock and another man about deadly standoffs with federal agents in Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The woman overheard the conversation while at a diner on Sept. 28, and wrote in her statement the men were "angry" about the standoffs, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and "the federal government in general."
"They kept mentioning the 25th anniversary of 'Ruby Ridge,'" the woman continued. "I didn't hear them planning anything but they were speaking of things that struck me [as] odd."
The standoff at Ruby Ridge erupted in 1992 when Randy Weaver, who had associated with white nationalist organizations, resisted arrest for weapons charges. A US Marshal and two members of Weaver's family died in the ensuing violence. The standoff in Waco took place in 1993 when federal agents raided the ranch of a religious group known as the Branch Davidians. The confrontation lasted for 51 days and left a total of 80 people dead.
The standoffs, particularly Ruby Ridge, have since become prominent themes among those on the far right who oppose the federal government.
The woman who overheard the conversation about the standoffs before the Las Vegas shooting wrote that Paddock and the other man seemed like "strange guys and I wanted to leave."
Other statements released by police this week paint Paddock as a loner and introvert who frequented multiple casinos. In one, an executive casino host for Caesar's Palace told detectives Paddock "was kind of an odd guy." The host, whose name was redacted from the documents, described an incident in which Paddock yelled at him over a luggage issue, and concluded that "he had a bit of a temper on him."
The host also said that he tried to build a rapport with casino regulars, but that Paddock "wasn't the most open guy that way."
An employee at the Wynn Las Vegas who first met Paddock six years ago gave detectives a similar account, saying the man was a good gambler, but also "kind of an introvert." Paddock eventually stayed at the hotel at least 100 times, the employee said.
"Just my first encounter with him I did notice that he wasn't the most personable guy," the Wynn employee added.
The employee also told detectives Paddock won two different giveaways in 2016 worth about $90,000 and $150,000, respectively.
The newly released statements also shed light on what happened as the shooting was unfolding. In one, a woman staying two floors below Paddock said she heard gunfire going off and called 911. She got a busy signal, but eventually ended up talking to hotel security.
"I said, 'The shooter's on my floor. I think he's next door or nearby,'" the woman recalled saying. The hotel security officer then began yelling to others that the shooter was on the 30th floor and hung up on the woman.
Paddock had actually been firing from the 32nd floor, and around the same time, Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos was making his way through that part of the hotel. Campos is not named in the newly released documents, but a statement appearing to belong to him describes finding a metal bracket that was keeping a stairwell door shut on Paddock's floor. The guard then heard what sounded like a "very loud drill."
"As I got in front of 32129 that's when I heard gunfire," the guard recalled. "As I got hit I was pinned in front of 32121 and 32123. I noticed I was bleeding. And at that moment in time I got over the radio and, uh, my mobile, uh, phone, to contact dispatch that shots were fired and that I was hit."