The man police say fired from a Las Vegas hotel window into an outside crowd of 22,000 concertgoers Sunday night, killing at least 58 and wounding at least 527, was a retiree, a former accountant and high-stakes gambler with no known motive for the attack.
“We know nothing. If you told me an asteroid fell, it would mean the same to me,” Eric Paddock said of his brother Stephen, 64, who lived with a longtime girlfriend in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, reports The Washington Post.
“There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” Eric said. “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.”
Clark County, Nevada, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo identified Stephen Paddock as the shooter at a news conference Monday.
Eric Paddock says his brother was a high-stakes gambler, real estate investor and former accountant who gave family members no inkling whether he might have been financially troubled, according to the Post. Nor was Eric aware of any problems such as alcohol or drug abuse or mental illness in his brother’s life.
“My brother is not like you and me. He plays high stakes video poker,” Eric said. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.”
“I have absolutely no information he lost a bunch of money. The casino would know that,” Eric said.
The brothers’ father, Benjamin Paddock, was sent to prison in 1960 for robbing an Arizona bank before he escaped in 1968 and wound up on the FBI’s most-wanted list during nearly three years on the run, reports the New York Post. He was recaptured in 1971. Arizona’s inmate records search lists no current information for him.
Eric said he knew his brother had guns and Stephen once took Eric’s children on a skeet-shooting trip paid for by one of the casinos, but he added that Stephen otherwise did not hunt and barely shot his weapons.
The allegation that his brother was a mass killer left Eric “dumbfounded,” he said, according to The New York Times.
According to U.S. Army Major Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, there is no record that Paddock had ever served in the military.
Sheriff Lombardo said Stephen Paddock was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort, from which he had fired on a concert crowd of more than 22,000 outside on the ground about 1,200 feet away.
“We located numerous firearms within the [hotel] room that he occupied,” Lombardo said of Paddock. The sheriff added that investigators found more than 10 rifles in the room.
He described Paddock as a “lone wolf,” and said hotel employees who had been in his room prior to the attack saw no indication that he was holding weapons there.
Authorities have not released any motive for the shooting.
A gun store, Guns and Guitars, Inc., in Mesquite, that counted Paddock as a customer responded to the tragedy by issuing a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“We mourn for this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the lost and injured. Mr. Paddock was a customer and purchased firearms from our store; however, all necessary background checks and procedures were followed, as required by local, state and federal law.”
The statement continued: “He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time. We are currently cooperating with the ongoing investigation by local and federal law enforcement in any way we can.”
According to investigators, Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay on Thursday using the identification of Marilou Danley, whom authorities believe was his longtime girlfriend and roommate in a retirement community in Mesquite and was not involved in the violence.
Danley was located out of the country following the shooting, according to authorities.
Neither Paddock nor Danley had any prior run-ins with police in Mesquite, police spokesperson Quinn Averett confirmed to PEOPLE.
The gunman opened fire just after 10 p.m. local time as Jason Aldean kicked off his show on the final day of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival.
A former Florida neighbor of Paddock’s, Don Judy, tells PEOPLE he’s shocked by the actions of his casual friend who, upon their second meeting, gave Judy a key to his house and “asked me to check on it regularly when he was in Las Vegas where he lived most of the time, since he was a gambler both in casinos and online.”
Judy, 64, met Paddock in 2013 when Paddock bought a house next door to him in Heritage Isle, a 55-and-older community in Viera, a community near Melbourne, Florida. Paddock sold the house and moved away in 2015.
Judy says he did check his neighbor’s home regularly but felt funny about looking too closely. He never saw guns, but only a nearly empty home with two Lazy Boy recliners in the living room, a couple of computers, and a bed and chair in the bedroom, like a young man’s crash pad.
Judy says Paddock lived at the time with “a girl named Marilou, but she wasn’t there much either,” and the couple largely kept to themselves, never inviting Judy and his wife to socialize with them. But Judy does recall that he never saw Paddock drink or smoke, and Paddock trusted his neighbor enough to also offer the use of his garage tools if Judy ever needed anything.
Although Judy says he gave little thought to his former neighbor after Paddock moved away, the news from Las Vegas left him “shaking,” he says. “I feel very uncomfortable, and am trying to figure out what caused this gambler to do such a horrible thing.”
“It just kept coming,” Robyn Webb told the Las Vegas Review-Journal of the gunfire. “It was relentless.”
Michelle Leonard told Good Morning America that there was “mass confusion” as people attempted to flee the venue, noting that the gunfire “kept going nonstop.”
“I had no idea of where it was coming from or where to run to,” she said.
Multiple reports state that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist groups. Through its Amaq news agency, the group reportedly claimed the shooter had recently converted to Islam and was one of its “soldiers.”
But a federal counterterrorism source tells PEOPLE, “ISIS would claim responsibility for Las Vegas no matter what. If they did or didn’t do it, they would say they did. It fits their narrative of having secret cells planted around the country.”
The sources adds, “That said, we have to take the claim into account. Something triggered this guy. He seemed to act out of nowhere. What happened? Was it domestic problems? Mental illness? Revenge? Or did he join ISIS? We have to consider everything.”
How to Help and Learn About Loved Ones
Friends and family are asked to report missing people believed to be connected to the shooting using the hotline 1-800-536-9488.
Anyone with photo or video evidence of the shooting is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
The city of Las Vegas has established a Family Reunification Center to help connect relatives with the more than 500 people who were injured.
In addition, city officials urged those locally who wish to donate blood to visit one of two donation centers operated by United Blood Services, either at 6930 W. Charleston in Las Vegas or at 601 Whitney Ranch Drive in Henderson, Nevada.
A victims’ fund has been started on GoFundMe by Steve Sisolak the Clark County, Nevada, commission chair. Other groups providing relief include the local chapter of the American Red Cross and the National Compassion Fund.
• With reporting by DIANE HERBST, LINDA MARX and JEFF TRUESDELL