Vegas gunman requested room upgrade, locked out housekeeping for days

Las Vegas: The gunman behind the Las Vegas festival shooting asked to be upgraded to an adjoining room with a "better view" and refused to let housekeeping in for three days before unleashing a massacre that has emerged as being planned to a chilling degree.

High-stakes gambler Stephen Paddock's meticulous movements were revealed on Wednesday, exposing what a security source described to Fairfax Media as serious lapses in hotel security.

The retired accountant had a camera set up in the hotel door's peephole and two cameras set up in the hallway, including one on a room service cart, that were all wired to a device that allowed him to watch officers approaching his room, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said.

Inside Room 32135, he had 23 guns, magazines stacked in piles, suitcases and duffel bags that he used to conceal assault rifles, bullets strewn on the ground and wiring along the skirting boards. Among the guns were 12 bump stocks, a cheap and legal device that converts a semi-automatic rifle into one that mimics the fire of a fully automatic weapon.

As leaked crime scene photos showed, Paddock died on the floor with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, dressed in slip-on shoes and wearing black gloves.

"It was pre-planned extensively and I'm pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did," Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.

Contrary to his comments that house-keeping entered the room between Thursday and Sunday and noticed nothing amiss, the security source told Fairfax Media that Paddock kept the "do not disturb" sign on the door, and no one entered the room for three days.

It was a breach of the hotel's protocols that advise staff to do welfare checks if the "do not disturb" sign has been on for more than 24 hours.

"There were a number of missed opportunities by the hotel," the source said. "These things in isolation don't seem much but when you put them all together, they raise serious suspicions."

CCTV showed Paddock stayed at the Mandalay Bay three times recently, raising the possibility of months of planning. He checked in alone on Thursday and returned to reception the next morning to ask for a corner room. It gave him a view of the Route 91 Harvest festival 450 metres away where he would later kill 58 people and injure more than 500.

But the question still remains: Why?

More than 48 hours in, the lack of any clues pointing towards a motive makes the incident extremely unusual compared to most US attacks, said Jeffrey Simon, visiting lecturer in the department of political science at the University of California and author of Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat.

"Lone wolves love to talk a lot, which you wouldn't think they do, but human nature is to talk and they often do it via blogging, Facebook or forums which offers clues" he said. "This is one of the only, if not only, incident where after two to three days nobody knows the motive."

He said there must have been some triggering event - either days or months before the incident - like an emotional issue or possibly financial problem, such as a major gambling loss.

Paddock has no known online footprint, left no notes, had no prior interactions with authorities and was not close with any friends or family.

All eyes have turned to his girlfriend, Australian-Filipina grandmother Marilou Danley, 62, who was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting. She landed in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon and was taken in for questioning by FBI agents, AP reported.

Paddock, described as an anti-social and eccentric gambler, had upped his stakes in recent weeks, gambling more than $10,000 a day. He wired $100,000 to the Philippines a few days ago, multiple US outlets reported.

On Wednesday, police wrapped up a search of a second home in Reno, Nevado, finding five guns and ammunition. It brought the total number in his possession to 42, all bought at gun stores in Nevada, California, Utah and Texas, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said.

The bump stocks, which allow guns to fire 400-800 rounds per minute, were also legal and sold for around $100 online.

It allowed him to pepper the crowd for between nine to 11 minutes. A hotel security guard, who became separated from a group of officers searching the floors, was shot through the door by Paddock and hit in the leg.

Police believed that the guard's approach made Paddock turn his attention away from shooting the crowd and allowed officers to close in on his hotel room.

The incident has sparked intense debate in the US about the use of bump stocks and the Democrats are contemplating a bill targeting the legality of the device.

But any legislation is unlikely to succeed with Republicans like congressman Steve Scalise, himself recovering from an active shooter incident in Washington, reiterating support for the right to bear arms.

"Every single day in America, regular citizens that just have a passionate belief in the second amendment ... use guns every single day to protect themselves against criminals," he said on Fox News. "People use guns way more to defend themselves from criminals than criminals using guns to hurt people."

Comment has been sought from Mandalay Bay and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.

graphic

This story Vegas gunman requested room upgrade, locked out housekeeping for days first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.