Unsealed court documents have been released revealing that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a crowd from a hotel room in October, meticulously planned the attack and also made elaborate preparations for the aftermath.
According to federal court documents unsealed on Friday, F.B.I. search warrants shed new light on how Paddock used anonymous communications devices, including a prepaid cellphone, to cover his tracks and employed a “level of sophistication which is commonly found in mass casualty events,” said a report in The New York Times.
“Paddock planned the attack meticulously and took many methodical steps to avoid detection of his plot and to thwart the eventual law enforcement investigation that would follow,” the F.B.I. told reporters.
Paddock’s motive for the attack remains unknown, but one of the warrants described how the gunman “destroyed or tried to hide digital media devices,” according to the report.
The search warrants, which were approved by judges shortly after the shooting, said three cellphones belonging to Paddock were found in his room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including two that investigators searched and one that they could not unlock. An F.B.I. agent wrote that he believed “if there were any information related to a potential conspiracy, it would be found within” the locked phone, which used a Google operating system.
The documents further revealed that Paddock’s live-in girlfriend, Marilou Danley, had informed authorities that she occasionally helped Paddock load ammunition into magazines and, as a result, her fingerprints were probably on some bullets.
No evidence suggested “criminal involvement” by Danley at the time the Oct. 3 document was published, but investigators also did not rule out the possibility, according to The Washington Examiner. Danley was out of the country in the Philippines to visit her family when the Oct. 1 attack occurred.
The documents appear to show Paddock exchanged emails about purchasing rifles and bump stocks several months before the attack. A bump stock device allows semi-automatic weapons to fire in a similar fashion to automatic ones and was used during Paddock’s attack, according to the Examiner.
The documents said Paddock also received an email suggesting he try an AR-style rifle before purchasing one. Paddock reportedly responded with interest in trying several scopes and various types of ammunition.
Despite these details, authorities still don’t know what motivated the 64-year-old millionaire to open fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel upon concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. He was found dead in his hotel room by law enforcement after the shooting.
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