Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock stockpiled weapons over decades, planned attack

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people and himself in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history stockpiled weapons and ammunition over decades, and meticulously planned the attack, authorities believe.

But what led Stephen Paddock, 64, to unleash the carnage he did remains largely a mystery.

"What we know is that Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood," Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news briefing on Wednesday night

Lombardo said he found it hard to believe that the arsenal of weapons, ammunition and explosives recovered by police in their investigation could have been assembled by Paddock completely on his own.

"You have to make an assumption that he had some help at some point," Lombardo said.

RELATED: What we know about Stephen Paddock

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What we know about Las Vegas shooting suspect Stephen Paddock
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What we know about Las Vegas shooting suspect Stephen Paddock
Stephen Paddock, 64, allegedly opened fire from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, leaving at least 59 people dead and hundreds injured.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

He reportedly used a hammer-like tool to break out two windows at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Stephen Paddock was reportedly a high-stakes gambler that lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada.

(REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus)

His father was Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, a bank robber and former FBI Most Wanted Fugitive.

(FBI/Handout via REUTERS)

Paddock killed himself before authorities breached his hotel room and investigators say he acted alone.

(REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus)

Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting but he reportedly used her identification to check in at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/Handout via REUTERS)

Stephen Paddock lived in this home in Melbourne, Florida from 2013 to 2015.

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

Police said Paddock had no criminal record.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

NBC News reported that Paddock made several large gambling transactions in recent weeks, but that it wasn't clear if they were wins or losses.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Paddock reportedly purchased firearms at  Guns & Guitars, a gun shop in Mesquite, Nevada. 

(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Paddock's brother, Eric, said his sibling belonged to no political or religious organizations, and had no history of mental illness.

 (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Paddock's brother described him as a "wealthy guy" and said he liked to play video poker and go on cruises.

(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

He worked as an accountant and had real estate investments, according to the Washington Post. 

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Paddock had his pilot license and owned at least one plane, according to Reuters.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
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Some 489 people were also injured when Paddock strafed an outdoor concert with gunfire on Sunday night from his 32nd-floor suite of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. He then took his own life.

There is evidence that Paddock tried to survive and escape. He also may have scouted out the location, renting a room at the Ogden, a nearby hotel, during the Life is Beautiful festival a week earlier, Lombardo said.

Police recovered nearly 50 firearms from three locations they searched, nearly half of them from the hotel suite. Twelve of the rifles there were fitted with so-called bump stocks, officials said, allowing the guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons.

Lombardo said investigators were examining the possibility Paddock's purchase of more than 30 guns in October 2016 may have been precipitated by some event in his life. He did not elaborate.

There remained no evidence as yet "to indicate terrorism" in the shooting spree, said Aaron Rouse, FBI special agent in charge of the Las Vegas field office.

Paddock's girlfriend Marilou Danley was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said in a statement she was unaware of the Paddock's plans.

"He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen," Danley, 62, said in a statement released by her lawyer Matt Lombard.

Danley returned late on Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines. She is regarded by investigators as a "person of interest". Lombard said his client was cooperating fully with authorities.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation official in Las Vegas, meanwhile, said no one has been taken into custody.

AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN

An Australian citizen of Filipino heritage, Danley said she flew back to the United States voluntarily "because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them".

Danley, who was twice married before her relationship with Paddock, became a focus of the investigation for having shared his retirement community condo in Mesquite, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas, before leaving the United States for the Philippines in mid-September.

RELATED: Devastating images from the deadly shooting

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The most devastating images from the Las Vegas concert shooting
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The most devastating images from the Las Vegas concert shooting
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: A man lays on top of a woman as others flee the Route 91 Harvest country music festival grounds after a active shooter was reported on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 2 people dead. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was hear on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: A cowboy hat lays in the street after shots were fired near a country music festival on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: People run for cover at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01:  A person lies on the ground covered with blood at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01:  A person lies on the ground at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: (People carry a peson at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: People take cover at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: A man in a wheelchair is taken away from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are reports of an active shooter around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
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FBI agents met her plane at Los Angeles International Airport before interviewing her, two U.S. officials briefed on the case told Reuters.

Investigators questioned her about Paddock's weapons purchases, a $100,000 wire transfer to a Philippine bank that appeared to be intended for her, and whether she saw any changes in his behavior before she left the United States.

Danley said Paddock had bought her an airline ticket to visit her family and wired her money to purchase property there, leading her to worry he might be planning to break up with her.

Paddock's brother Eric told reporters the $100,000 transfer was evidence that "Steve took care of the people he loved", and that he probably wanted to protect Danley by sending her overseas before the attack.

She arrived in Manila on Sept. 15, flew to Hong Kong on Sept. 22, returned to Manila on Sept. 25 and was there until she flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday night, according to a Philippine immigration official.

Discerning Paddock's motive has proven especially baffling given the absence of the indicators typical in other mass shootings. He had no criminal record, no known history of mental illness and no outward signs of social disaffection, political discontent or extremist ideology, police said.

Earlier in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump visited Las Vegas, marking the first time since taking office that he has had to confront a major mass shooting.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Lisa Girion in Las Vegas, Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Allen in New York, Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Manuel Mogato in Manila and John Walcott and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Danielle Trotta, Steve Gorman and Brendan O'Brien Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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