All of the reporting up to now points to Paddock being a solitary weirdo who spent most of his time on video poker and guns. That’s not the sort of personality who easily makes connections with others. The notable exception, of course, is his relationship with his girlfriend, whose supposed ignorance of what Paddock was up to seems suspicious. Presumably that’s whom the sheriff has in mind when he refers to a helper here.
Or does he?
Here’s a curious report from NBC this morning:
Investigators are trying to identify a mystery woman seen with Stephen Paddock in the days before the Las Vegas massacre, several law enforcement officials told NBC News.
They don’t know if she has any connection to the attack, but they would like to speak with her as they build a timeline of Paddock’s last days, the officials said.
The mystery woman isn’t Marilou Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend. She was in the Philippines by the time he checked in at the Mandalay Bay. Hearing about a “mystery woman,” it’s hard not to think of that interview after the attack with an eyewitness at the concert who saw a strange woman warning people 45 minutes before the shooting began that they were all going to die. But if that woman and Paddock’s mystery companion are the same person, then we have a new mystery: The eyewitness who saw the woman at the concert claims there was a man with her at the time. And it wasn’t Paddock; she said the man was Hispanic.
Possibly (or probably) the woman seen with Paddock and the woman at the concert were two different people. Vegas being Vegas, a logical possibility is that Paddock had hired an escort.
But wait. The idea of him having an accomplice wasn’t the strangest detail from the sheriff’s press conference last night. This was:
“Did you see any evidence that he planned to survive this or try to escape?” a reporter asked during a press briefing.
“Yes,” Lombardo answered succinctly, without elaborating.
He was on the 32nd floor. Where the hell did he think he was going? The only theory I can come up with is that he planned to shoot for only a few minutes, then bug out of the room and slip out of the hotel before anyone knew what happened. And in fact, Paddock *did* only shoot for a very brief time — just 10 minutes or so. But there’s no evidence that was by design. More likely is that he stopped because he was interrupted. A security guard, who was unarmed and ended up being shot in the leg, showed up outside his door 13 minutes after the attack began and cops were in the hallway minutes later. After a standoff of about an hour, Paddock finally killed himself. Maybe he calculated that he had, say, 15 minutes to shoot before anyone would interrupt and the security guard happened to appear right before he planned to leave. But if so, why did he have a giant arsenal of rifles in his hotel suite? That suggests a man who’s prepared to fight to the end. And how far did he think he was going to get, having left so much evidence behind that he was the shooter?
I wonder if the sheriff’s deducing from the fact that explosives were found in Paddock’s car that he was planning to make a getaway and use them. It seems at least as likely that he had brought the explosives with him planning to use them in the hotel but then gave up on them because of logistical problems. If his goal was to kill a lot of people and then escape, planting a bomb seems like a much better bet than holing up in a room 300 feet above the ground with bump stocks.
For what it’s worth, former intel officer Tony Shaffer told Fox News last night that he has “sources” who tell him that authorities know something about a “political angle” to the shooting but haven’t released it yet. Stay tuned. By the way, this guy, on the cusp of perpetrating the worst mass shooting in American history, reportedly spent the night before the attack … gambling. For eight hours.