Las Vegas Sun

July 17, 2018

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Expert says shooter’s behavior makes probe difficult


People leave messages at a makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting at a music festival, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. Authorities said Stephen Craig Paddock broke windows on the Mandalay Bay casino and began firing with a cache of weapons, killing dozens and injuring hundreds at the festival. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Craig Paddock's anti-social personality will only hamper investigators as they try to figure to piece together what led to the shooting.

"It's extremely difficult," said Erroll Southers, the director of homegrown violent extremism studies at the University of Southern California.

"The lack of a social media footprint is likely intentional," Southers said. "We're so used to in the first 24 to 48 hours being able to review social media posts. If they don't leave us a note behind or a manifesto behind, and we're not seeing that, that's what's making this longer.

"What's really puzzling is that we've seen him with similar kinds of activity — booking rooms in other places — so you have to ask yourself the reason he picked Las Vegas and not somewhere else."

Paddock fired indiscriminately Sunday from his upper-level room at the Mandalay Bay hotel casino at people attending a country music festival below, killing dozens and injuring nearly 500 people. The 64-year-old Paddock killed himself as authorities closed in.

Because so few people knew Paddock well, investigators will likely have an even harder time sorting through his background to try to uncover any possible leads, Southers said.

"You don't have any cases of leakage — no one to say who's he mad at, what his motive is," Southers said. "The key to this case right now is the girlfriend."

"The reason you want to engage in a terror attack is you want to bring attention to an extremist ideology, you want publicity," he said. "You want people to be afraid of what you believe what you do."