By William Wan, Sandhya Somashekhar, Aaron C. Davis and Barbara Liston
Before he opened fire late Sunday, killing at least 58 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, gunman Stephen Paddock was living out his retirement as a high-stakes gambler in a quiet town outside Las Vegas.
Paddock, 64, would disappear for days at a time, frequenting casinos with his longtime girlfriend, neighbors said. Relatives also said Paddock had frequently visited Las Vegas to gamble and take in concerts.
Eric Paddock said his brother often gambled in tens of thousands of dollars. “My brother is not like you and me. He plays high-stakes video poker,” he said. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.”
Eric Paddock said he showed the FBI three years of text messages from his brother and said he had no information whether Stephen Paddock had gambling debts or was financially troubled. “I have absolutely no information he lost a bunch of money. The casino would know that,” he said.
Eric Paddock said his brother previously worked as an accountant but also had real estate investments, including houses and apartments around Orlando. He said Stephen Paddock had no kids and plenty of money to play with.
Eric Paddock said he did not know of any mental illness, alcohol or drug problems in his brother’s life.
Their father was once on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. He was a fugitive bank robber and rarely around for either son. “I was born on the run,” said Eric Paddock.
He knew his brother owned a couple of handguns but was shocked at the rapid-fire weapon apparently used by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas. He said his brother didn’t hunt, barely shot his guns and once took Eric Paddock’s children on a skeet-shooting trip paid for by the casinos.
Eric Paddock spoke in his driveway as he was getting in his car to go with FBI agents to interview his mother, who is in her 90s and who appears to have been the last family member to communicate with Stephen Paddock, about two weeks ago. Eric Paddock said his brother last texted him five days after Hurricane Irma hit Orlando to check if anyone in the family had been affected. “He texted and said, ‘How’s Mom?’ ” Eric Paddock said.
He said their mother was bewildered, as he was, why Stephen Paddock had shot and killed so many on Sunday.
“We know nothing. If you told me an asteroid fell it would mean the same to me. There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” he said, earlier. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There’s no political affiliation that we know of. There’s no religious affiliation that we know of.”
For several years, the gunman lived with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, in a retirement community in Reno, Nev., neighbors said. They said they interacted with Danley but not with Paddock, whom they described as extremely standoffish. Danley told residents there that Paddock was a professional gambler, explaining their long absences from the neighborhood.
Called Del Webb, the neighborhood is a relatively new active-adult community of single-family homes with desert views and a clubhouse with a gym and pool.
Harold Allred, who lives up the street from the couple, said his wife often ran into Danley in exercise classes or social gatherings. Allred said he and his wife found Danley unremarkable, though perhaps a little odd, and didn’t know Paddock. “He was reclusive,” said Allred, 66. “We never met him.”
Paddock lived in a number of retirement communities. In addition to the Reno home, Paddock and Danley had another home in Mesquite, Nev., said neighbors.
In recent years, he had moved to Nevada from Melbourne, Fla. And he had previously lived in Texas and California, where he had married once and later divorced.
In Reno, Diane McKay lived next door to Paddock and Danley until July, when McKay moved to a different community, but she said she only ran into Danley occasionally when both women happened to be pulling weeds from their front yards. Danley wasn’t forthcoming about her life, and Paddock was aggressively unfriendly, McKay recalled. She only saw him in the mornings, when he went to the clubhouse to work out. Occasionally, he would open the garage door, revealing a large safe the size of a refrigerator. Other than that, the couple kept their blinds closed.
“He was weird. Kept to himself,” said McKay, 79, who described Paddock as small but in pretty good shape. “It was like living next to nothing. ... You can at least be grumpy, something. He was just nothing, quiet. He never went out in the back and enjoyed the back yard, nature. They had a little back yard, 17 feet to the fence and hill. But the blinds were always closed.”
McKay said the couple was gone for six months last year, which she thought was for a gambling trip.
Paddock’s family said there was nothing in his past that would suggest violence. Family members said that Paddock spent much of his retirement in recent years frequenting hotels in Las Vegas. They said he listened to country music and went to concerts at Vegas hotels, similar to the one Sunday night where he opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers.
Public records show Paddock was a licensed pilot who owned two planes. And he had a hunting license from Alaska.
Property records show he had homes in both Mesquite, Texas, and Mesquite in Nevada. He bought his current home in Nevada in 2013, and he appears to have been living there ever since.
Las Vegas police said authorities searched Paddock’s home in Nevada on Monday morning. Quinn Averett, a spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department, said Paddock was unknown to local authorities in the city 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Mesquite police have no recorded interactions with Paddock. Las Vegas police said the same.
Neighbors at his home in Mesquite said Paddock did not seem agitated or disturbed in recent days. “I saw Paddock on the golf course about two months ago,” said Luis Rodriguez, a groundskeeper at Conestoga Golf Course, which runs right through the retirement community where Paddock lived. “There was nothing strange about him. He seemed friendly and happy at the time.”
Rodriguez and other groundskeepers were shocked when they woke up to the news and realized they had seen Paddock. They say he played alone and that he would stop and say hello to them on the course.
At a 55-and-over community in Florida, where Paddock had lived for many years, neighbors recalled strange details about his lifestyle.
Don Judy, his next-door neighbor until two years ago, recalled that shortly after Paddock turned 60, Judy saw the inside of his home and was shocked by its appearance. He said it “looked like a college freshman lived there.”
There was no art on the walls, not even a car in the driveway, Judy said, just a dining chair, a bed and two recliners. “It looked like he’d be ready to move at a moment’s notice,” Judy said.
Paddock, however, always seemed on the move, carrying a suitcase and driving a rental car on monthly trips from Vegas to the community near Cocoa Beach.
“One of the first times we met him, he told me he lived there, in Vegas,” said Judy. “He explained that he was a gambler, and a prospector. He said he was buying this house to check it out for his mother ... and that if she liked it, he planned to buy another next door with a floor plan like ours.”
Paddock’s brother, mother and other family members lived about an hour away in Orlando and would frequently visit, Judy said.
During the two years that Judy lived next door, Paddock never seemed to want for money. A new ShopVac, tools and a never-used ladder appeared in the garage. Paddock and Danley would wave as they left for dinner along the beach.
A little while after living there, Paddock left Judy a key and asked him to keep an eye on the rarely used house – and to borrow any tools he might want. “I thought, wow, this guy’s a good neighbor,” Judy said, who noted no drugs or parties, nothing unusual except for Paddock’s gambling. “They did seem to always stay up till midnight and sleep in till noon. They always seemed to stay on Vegas time.”
Computers also began appearing on the breakfast bar, and Paddock once boasted to Don and his wife that he’d won $20,000 playing card games over the internet.
Then, as quickly as he had appeared, Paddock put up a for-sale sign, Judy said. “He never said much about it, just said they were moving back to Vegas,” Judy said.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said, “We have no investigative information or background associated with this individual that is derogatory. ... The only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago, that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.”
Authorities said no connection has been found between the gunman and any international terrorist group.
After the shooting, Paddock was found dead by officers on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Lombardo said during a news briefing.
Police believe Paddock was a “lone wolf” attacker. Lombardo did not give further details, however, on Paddock’s background or possible motivation.
“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor.”
Paddock, who arrived at the hotel on Thursday, was found with more than 10 rifles, Lombardo said. Relatives said they knew Paddock owned guns but believed they were legal.
On Monday morning, police released a picture of Danley, saying they were searching for her as a person of interest. They later said they she was out of the country, and has been located and detained. Authorities called her a companion of Paddock.
Authorities described Danley as Asian, 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 111 pounds.
In a statement, Lockheed Martin, the defense giant, said that Paddock had worked for it for three years in the 1980s.
“Stephen Paddock worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin from 1985 until 1988,” the company said in a statement. “We’re cooperating with authorities to answer questions they may have about Mr. Paddock and his time with the company.”
The shooting on Sunday was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, killing at least 50 people and injuring hundreds of others.