Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock enjoyed gambling, country music; lived quiet life before massacre

A body lies covered with a sheet at the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after the mass shooting at a music festival.

Before he opened fire late Sunday — killing at least 50 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip — the gunman Stephen Paddock lived a quiet life for years in a small town outside Las Vegas.

A retired man, Paddock often visited Las Vegas to gamble and take in concerts, his relatives said. Public records show he was a licensed pilot who owned two planes. And he had a hunting license from Alaska.

For several years, he appeared to live in Mesquite, Tex. But property records show he chose to move to another town named Mesquite in Nevada, where he bought a home in 2013, and he has been living there ever since.

Paddock’s family said there was nothing in his past that would suggest violence.

“We are in complete shock, bewilderment and horror. We have absolutely no idea how in the world Steve did this. Absolutely no concept,” said one relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid hurting other relatives. “There was nothing secret or strange about him.”

Family members said that Paddock spent much of his retirement in recent years staying in hotels in Las Vegas and gambling. They said he listened to country music and went to concerts at Vegas hotels.

Las Vegas police said authorities were in the process of searching Paddock’s home in Mesquite, Nev., on Monday morning. Quinn Averett, a spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department said Paddock was unknown to local authorities in the city 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Mesquite police have no recorded interactions with Paddock.

Las Vegas police said the same.

“We have no investigative information or background associated with this individual that is derogatory,” said Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “The only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago, that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.”

After the shooting, Paddock was found dead by officers on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Lombardo said during a news briefing. Paddock was 64.

Police believe Paddock, a local resident, was a “lone wolf” attacker. Lombardo did not give further details, however, on Paddock’s background or possible motivation.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor.”

Recordings of the attack suggested that Paddock used an automatic weapon. Paddock, who arrived at the hotel on Thursday, was found with more than 10 rifles, Lombardo said. Relatives said they knew Paddock owned guns but believed they were legal.

Paddock’s brother, Eric, told Reuters that the family was stunned by what happened.

“We have no idea,” Eric Paddock told the news agency. “We’re horrified. We’re bewildered and our condolences go out to the victims. We have no idea in the world.”

Monday morning, police said they had searched for and found a 62-year-old woman, Marilou Danley, whom they called a person of interest.

Authorities called her a companion of Paddock. Relatives said she had been his girlfriend for some time and lived with him in Mesquite, Nev.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin, the defense giant, said that Paddock worked for it for three years in the 1980s.

“Stephen Paddock worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin from 1985 until 1988,” the company said in a statement. “We’re cooperating with authorities to answer questions they may have about Mr. Paddock and his time with the company.”

The shooting on Sunday was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, killing at least 50 people and injuring hundreds of others.

Mark Berman contributed to this story.