Las Vegas killer lived secret life, spent decades acquiring weapons



LAS VEGAS, Martin Bialecki and Gretel Johnston (dpa)- Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock spent "decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life" before he carried out Sunday's mass shooting at a music festival, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.
During a media update on Wednesday, Lombardo described the 64-year-old as "disturbed and dangerous" and said several cases of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition were found in his car at the Mandalay Bay hotel after the attack.



Lombardo also clarified that 489 people were injured during the "meticulously planned" attack, revising the total down from previous figures of over 500. Fifty-eight people were killed.
Paddock had also previously rented a room through Airbnb at the Ogden hotel in Las Vegas at the same time as the Life is Beautiful music festival was taking place on September 22-25, Lombardo confirmed.
Earlier Wednesday, Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, described him as "kind, caring and quiet" and said she had no idea he was planning the violent attack.
Danley said in a statement read by her lawyer Matthew Lombard in Los Angeles that she was devastated by the deaths and injuries that had occurred but said she loved Stephen Paddock.
"He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen," the 62-year-old said.
Danley, who lived with Paddock, said he suggested she travel to the Philippines about two weeks ago after he found her a cheap airline ticket. He wired her money to buy a house for herself and her family, which made her worry that he wanted to break up with her.
She said she returned to the United States voluntarily and would cooperate fully with the investigation. Investigators are treating her as a "person of interest" in their enquiries and say she could be key to understanding Paddock's motive.
US President Donald Trump described the United States as a "nation in mourning" after the shooting but said it would remain united as it struggled with its grief.
Trump travelled to the gambling and entertainment mecca on Wednesday to honour police officers, firefighters and other first responders and to visit victims in their hospital beds.
Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, the president made a stop at University Medical Center, where he praised the professionalism of the medical staff.
The hospital was one of several in the Las Vegas region that took in seriously injured trauma patients the night of the carnage when Paddock opened fire on a crowd attending a country music festival.
Paddock killed himself before police stormed his room on the 32nd floor of the hotel from where he had been raining bullets onto the crowd below.
Trump later spoke at the city's police department, where Sheriff Lombardo told the president that every person in the room "was instrumental in life-saving matters." He personally thanked law enforcement officials, saying "We are blessed to be surrounded by heroes."
But Trump deflected a question from a reporter asking whether America had a gun violence problem.
"We're not going to talk about that today," Trump said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Monday said it was a day for consoling survivors and mourning the people killed, not a day for political debate on stricter gun control laws.
Some Republican leaders in Congress agreed, but a number of Democrats are demanding action.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday urged Trump to convene both parties to discuss “some rational laws on gun safety.”
Trump appeared to be open to the idea, saying “We’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by” in comments before he left to view hurricane damage on Puerto Rico.
Trump described the gunman as "a very sick man, very demented," and indicated that more information about the investigation would be forthcoming.
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Thursday, October 5th 2017
Martin Bialecki and Gretel Johnston
           


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