Washington – Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock was a “wealthy” 64-year-old who liked playing video poker in Nevada’s ubiquitous casinos, according to his brother. His family and police grapple with a mass murder that came apparently out of the blue.
Eric Paddock last communicated with his older brother Stephen more than two weeks before his sibling unleashed a barrage of automatic weapons fire that killed more than 50 festival-goers on Monday in Las Vegas.
The younger Paddock and their elderly mother both live near Orlando, Florida, where they were without power for several days after Hurricane Irma lashed the Florida Peninsula last month.
“He texted me and said, ‘How’s Mom?’” Eric told reporters Monday outside his house.
Paddock said that his 64-year-old brother “absolutely” had no mental problems or political motives that the family was aware of.
“We’re trying to understand what’s happened,” Eric said. “We’re still just completely befuddled, dumbstruck.”
Las Vegas police said Stephen Paddock died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot late Sunday when officers stormed his 32nd-floor hotel room, from where he fired unrelentingly on people attending an open-air country music festival.
Stephen had “nothing to do with any political organization, religious organization, no white supremacists, nothing – as far as I know,” Eric said.
“He doesn’t even have parking tickets. He has no criminal record. He has no record of any affiliations. He has nothing that I know of.”
In Las Vegas, an FBI official said there was “to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”
The Islamic State movement had issued a claim of responsibility – without offering evidence – with the unverified assertion that Paddock was a recent convert to Islam.
Eric told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper that he helped Stephen move in 2015 from Florida to Nevada.
Stephen Paddock, 64, lived in Mesquite, Nevada, about 140 kilometres north-east of Las Vegas, near the Arizona state line.
Police swarmed the house in a retirement community within hours of the shooting.
It is in a “very quiet neighbourhood, low-crime area,” Quinn Averett of the Mesquite Police Department told reporters Monday.
“It’s a newer home – it’s a new subdivision,” he said. “It’s a nice, clean home, nothing out of the ordinary.”
The search initially produced some weapons, Averett said.
Police identified Marilou Danley, 62, as a “person of interest” in the case, later saying that she appeared to not have been involved. Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said she was located “out of the country.”
Records showed the older Paddock brother owned a second property that was also being searched in northern Nevada.
Australian media reports described Danley as Paddock’s girlfriend, saying that she holds an Australian passport and lived in Queensland before moving to the United States about 20 years ago.
Mesquite police “have not had any contacts” with Paddock or Danley, Averett said.
Eric Paddock said his 89-year-old mother was aware of his brother’s alleged crime.
“We all found out when our phones started ringing with the cops at 1 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
Stephen Paddock was “a wealthy guy” who liked playing video poker in Nevada’s ubiquitous casinos.
“He went on cruises,” Eric said. “He sent his mother cookies – huge, crazy boxes of cookies.”