The gunman in the Las Vegas massacre first shot a hotel security officer about six minutes before opening fire on an outdoor concert, a new revelation in the timeline of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Jesus Campos, who was injured in the leg during the shooting, investigated “sounds of drilling” coming from the 32nd-floor room of the Mandalay Bay resort where killer Stephen Paddock was staying, authorities said at a late-afternoon press briefing.
Paddock, who had an arsenal of rifles and ammunition in his room, was drilling holes through a wall in preparation for his well-planned attack, which included not only firing bullets at the concert-goers below, but also the planting of at least 50 pounds of explosives in his car.
Moments later, Campos was shot in the leg by Paddock, an injury he would survive. The time of the shooting was 9:59 p.m. Las Vegas time — about six minutes before Paddock began spraying bullets into the crowd. He killed 58 and injured nearly 500 before fatally shooting himself as police closed in.
“He (Campos) was injured prior to the mass volume shooting,” said Sheriff Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.
Paddock is believed to have been drilling holes either to install surveillance cameras, or to simply have openings to fire bullets through, Lombardo said.
The new timeline opens up the door for more questions about Paddock’s plans and the police response to the shooting. Authorities did not say what happened in the six minutes following Campos’ shooting and whether police were notified of his injury.
Previously authorities had said the guard’s arrival in the hallway was after Paddock began firing into the crowd. The earlier police account also said Campos may have caused Paddock to stop firing. Monday’s press briefing altered the timeline.
It also remains unclear whether Campos may have disrupted the plan that Paddock had to possibly escape or kill more people. Lombardo said it’s possible that Paddock, 64, a retired accountant and wealthy gambler, had planned an escape from the carnage he was about to unleash.
Lombardo said Paddock targeted aviation fuel tanks, stockpiled his car with explosives and had personal protection gear as part of an escape plan. Several of the bullets he fired from the high-rise hotel appeared targeted toward nearby airport fuel tanks, although unbeknownst to him, the tanks could not blow up from having been hit with bullets.
The explosives in his car were not detonated and did no damage. They were found and removed safely by police.
Lombardo said investigators have still not pinpointed the shooter’s motive, despite hundreds of hours of detective work.
“We want to figure out the ‘Why’,” Lombardo told reporters. “We would like to know the motive.”
There’s still no evidence Paddock was motivated by ideology, and there’s no evidence there was another shooter, he said. Investigators have found 200 incidents of Paddock moving through the city, and at no time was he with anyone else, Lombardo said.
“He was never seen with anybody else” during the 200 incidents, the sheriff said.
They haven’t found any one particular event in Paddock’s life that triggered the shooting, he said. They didn’t find any note in his room, only a paper with numbers, he said.
Lombardo also confirmed investigators are talking with Paddock’s brother Eric Paddock, who traveled to Las Vegas, and continue to speak with the shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, to get insight.
Lombardo declined to reveal what they’ve said, but stated, “Every piece of information we get is one more piece of the puzzle.”
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