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Vegas shooting: Authorities baffled in search for motive

Millionaire retiree Stephen Paddock, 64, the Las Vegas shooter, does not fit profile of a mass killer

LAS VEGAS: What sort of monster would arm himself to the teeth and strafe thousands of concert revellers with countless bullets from his sniper's nest in his high-rise hotel room?

How about a millionaire retiree who, his brother said, was a doting son who sent big boxes of cookies to his 90-year-old mother in Florida?

Stephen Paddock, 64, shot himself before the police could get to his 32nd-storey suite in the Mandalay Bay hotel.

By then, the carnage on the famous Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night had left at least 59 dead and more than 500 injured.

As the US mourns the senseless deaths and endures another bout of soul-searching from the havoc wreaked by high-powered firearms, many questions remain to be answered.

Paddock's self-inflicted death has left the authorities baffled as to his motive for the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, Reuters reported.

From most accounts, he does not fit the profile of a mass killer.

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

We have no idea what his belief system was... I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.Sheriff Joseph Lombardo on Stephen Paddock

With his US$2 million (S$2.7 million) wealth, Paddock is also not an angry, economically distressed, white male.

He owned two planes he was licensed to fly, and was a high roller at Las Vegas casinos, spending up to US$20,000 (S$27,000) daily.

He had no police record, his only brush with the law being a traffic offence. His father, however, was a bank robber who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted list after escaping prison.

Paddock also liked country music, relatives said, and went to concerts like the Route 91 Harvest festival where he slaughtered so many, Britain's The Independent reported.

US officials have discounted a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

"We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group," Mr Aaron Rouse, who is in charge of the FBI field office in Las Vegas, told reporters on Monday.

The police said they believed Paddock acted alone but were at a loss to explain what might have sparked the attack.

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

Paddock's brother, Eric, told the media that his brother had "no religious affiliation, no political affiliation" and was "not an avid gun guy at all".

On at least one point, the brother was mistaken.

The police said 23 guns were found in Paddock's suite, along with more than 10 suitcases.

His arsenal included one or more machine guns, a law enforcement official said. US law prohibits possession of newly manufactured machine guns but allows the transfer of the weapons owned before May 1986 if approved by the government.

Sheriff Lombardo said a search of Paddock's car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser compound that can be turned into explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building that killed 168 people.

The police found another 19 firearms, some explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at Paddock's home in Mesquite, about 130km north-east of Las Vegas.

They also obtained a warrant to search a second house connected to Paddock in Reno, about 720km north-west of Las Vegas.

According to relatives, the once married but childless Paddock made his fortune from real estate deals and a business that he and his brother Eric sold off.

Public records show Paddock leading an itinerant existence across the American West and South-eastern US, including stints as an apartment manager.

But he appeared to be settling into a quiet life after buying a retirement home, which he shared with live-in partner Marilou Danley.

It is not clear if Ms Danley, a Filipino with Australian citizenship travelling abroad during the massacre, can shed any light on Paddock's motives. Sheriff Lombardo said investigators would want to talk to her.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump called Paddock "a sick man, a demented man".

"We are looking into him very, very seriously, but we're dealing with a very, very sick individual," Mr Trump told reporters, declining to say whether he considered the attack an act of domestic terrorism.

For now, Paddock remains a mystery. As his neighbour in Reno, Ms Diane McKay, said: "It was like living next to nothing... He was just nothing, quiet."

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