Authorities investigating the Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in modern US history, are preparing to question the girlfriend of gunman Stephen Paddock who has flown back to America after being named a ‘person of interest’ in the criminal case.
As fresh details of the meticulous planning of the massacre were revealed by investigators, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of Clark County told a press conference that detectives were in contact with Marilou Danley, who had been travelling in the Philippines at the time of the killings.
“The investigation with her is ongoing and we anticipate some further information from her shortly,” he told reporters. “Currently she is a person of interest.” It has since been confirmed that Danley boarded a flight to the US where authorities awaited her.
Lombardo declined to comment on a report that 64-year-old Paddock had wired $100,000 to an account in the Philippines some time in the week before the attack.
However a spokesman for the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) confirmed the move.
Nick Suarez told AFP news agency that the FBI, its US counterpart, had sought help in finding Danley.
“Danley arrived in the Philippines last month and then there was a wire transfer to her account for $100,000 from Stephen,” he said. “The FBI has coordinated with the Philippine office of the Interpol to look for her.”
Suarez said the FBI considered Danley a “person of interest”, but not necessarily a suspect.
Paddock opened fire from the windows of his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 at a country music festival. Police stormed his room and found he had killed himself.
On Tuesday, officials offered new information on Paddock and how he planned the attack. An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said that 47 firearms had now been found in three different locations, including the hotel room, and Verde and Mesquite, Nevada.
Of those weapons, 12 had devices known as bump stocks attached that allowed semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic gunfire. The agent, Jill Snyder, said officials had determined the devices were legal. The weapons – rifles shotguns pistols – were purchased in Nevada, Utah, California and Texas, she said.
The sheriff’s office also released police body camera footage of officers responding during the shooting. The rapid gunfire bursts can be heard as officers shelter beside a wall and yell at civilians to “get back”. One video shows officers beside a patrol car when one is shot.
The first report to police came at 10.08pm and Paddock continued to fire for “somewhere between nine and 11 minutes”, officials said.
Police also confirmed on Tuesday that Paddock had set up cameras inside and outside his room, including two in the hallway and one in the peephole of his hotel room door.
“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” Lombardo said at an afternoon press conference.
The evidence offers an insight into Paddock’s careful planning of the shooting. Lombardo said: “I’m pretty sure he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troubling.”
Paddock’s motive remains unknown. “This person may have been radicalised, unbeknownst to us, and we want to identify that source.”
The sheriff said the number of people injured would go down slightly because of some double counting. “We also had very heroic acts of people attending the event … Citizens providing medical aid and transport for people to get to the hospital.”
Lombardo added: “It’s an ongoing investigation and when I say I don’t know, I may know … I assure you this investigation is not ended with the demise of Mr Paddock.”The Guardian -UK