Five months have passed since Stephen Paddock checked into his suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he executed the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. From his 32nd floor suite, he opened fire upon the 22,000 attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival across the street. He killed 58 people that night and wounded over 400 more. He had an assortment of weapons in his room, fitted with bump stocks that increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic firearms. It does not turn them into automatic weapons, however. They’re novelty items, but ones that were used in a heinous act. Paddock also checked into the adjacent room, locked the doors, and used the room service cart to create a net of surveillance outside his door. He took multiple trips to his home in Mesquite, about an hour from Las Vegas. He also checked into The Ogden, a condominium complex, for the week, where there was another music festival, Life Is Beautiful, occurring nearby. It’s speculated that this was another area he scoped to commit this terrible shooting, given that he researched the festival’s music line up and projected attendance, according to The New York Times.
Now, after months have gone by, we’re still no closer to finding out Paddock’s motive. For now, we have video footage of Paddock’s final week, where prior to his horrific attack on October 1, 2017, he had a pattern of driving from Mesquite to the Mandalay, to the Ogden, back to Mesquite, and to the Mandalay/ Ogden multiple times. The Times added that at least 21 bags filled with guns and ammunition were carried up to his room. More bags being taken up every time he came back to the Mandalay. He tipped the bellhops, ate, and gambled. He was independently wealthy. The full FBI report is still being compiled and they’re not expected to release it until the one-year anniversary of the attack. The footage is chilling in the sense that this man was calm and collected throughout the entire video. He was totally unsuspecting (via NYT):
Rarely are investigators or the public able to track the preparations of a mass gunman in such molecular detail. Yet for all the material the footage offers about the who, the what, the where, the when and the how, we are no closer to the why.
Watching the footage, nearly six months later, is a kind of compulsive ghost-hunting. In the antiseptic stare of the surveillance camera, even the most ordinary interactions are deformed, made weird only by what we know now. It is unnerving because it ends in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. It is unnerving because even with his every movement laid out, the grotesquely composed protagonist of this film gives away nothing.
Over and over in the clips, Mr. Paddock is seen leaving the Mandalay Bay for his home in Mesquite, returning with a dark minivan loaded with suitcases. Over and over, valets take his keys; over and over, bellhops stack his luggage on gold carts, helping him transport at least 21 bags over the course of seven days. As they take the service elevator upstairs, Mr. Paddock chats with them. He cracks a joke. He tips.
They have no idea that the suitcases they are so conscientiously carrying are full of guns and ammunition.
Mandalay Bay employees are virtually the only people with whom Mr. Paddock interacts in the surveillance footage. He checks in at the V.I.P. desk, eats alone at the resort’s sushi restaurant, makes snack runs to the gift shop and gambles at the high-stakes video poker machines. Casino hosts greet him as a regular. Security cameras capture him with arms aloft, celebrating a $1,000 win.