How the Las Vegas Gunman Planned a Massacre, in 7 Days of Video | NYT – Visual Investigations

How the Las Vegas Gunman Planned a Massacre, in 7 Days of Video | NYT – Visual Investigations


The surveillance footage is
remarkable in its banality. It shows Stephen Paddock,
the Las Vegas gunman, in the days before
his mass shooting. He cuts a lonesome figure as he moves through
the Mandalay Bay hotel — playing video poker
for hours in the casino; buying snacks at a newsstand; watching a LeBron James
interview in a restaurant; and at times, chatting
with hotel staff. But this picture of an ordinary gambler disguises a far more sinister intent. Through this previously
unseen footage, we’ll show how Paddock
methodically planned his attack, and how, over seven days,
hotel staff unwittingly helped him to move bag after bag
of weapons to his room. The videos, obtained exclusively
by The New York Times from MGM Resorts, begin
on Monday, Sept. 25. At the V.I.P. counter,
he checks into a suite on the 32nd floor, and
books an adjoining room, which he will check into
four days later. He doesn’t immediately
bring in suitcases. Instead, he spends
two hours in the hotel, going to his room and eating at a sushi
restaurant downstairs. Just before 5 p.m., he drives his
Chrysler Pacifica minivan to the valet area,
where a bellman loads the luggage cart
with five suitcases. Paddock asks to stay
with his luggage, so the bellman brings him
through the service elevators to his room — something
hotel management says is not unusual. Paddock spends the next
four hours in his room, and at 9:40 that night,
he leaves the hotel, bringing two suitcases with him. He drives one hour to
Mesquite, where he lived. Cellphone records show
that he stays the night and spends most
of Tuesday here. Around 8 p.m., Paddock
returns to Las Vegas, but he stops at the Ogden, a downtown
condominium complex. This is interesting
for a few reasons. Paddock was also renting rooms
here for the entire week. He checked in the
previous Friday, when a music event called
the Life Is Beautiful festival was being held in
the surrounding streets. Internet records recovered
by the police show that he searched for
that festival’s lineup and its expected attendance. This was similar to his research
of the Mandalay and the Route 91 Harvest Festival,
which he would later attack. So, the Ogden and
the Life is Beautiful festival could have been used for planning,
or may even have been a target. Later Tuesday night, Paddock
returns to the Mandalay and a different bellman
helps him to move seven more suitcases
to his suite. Again, he uses the
service elevator. He tips the bellman,
who had no way of knowing these cases were packed
with guns and ammunition. He gambles for eight hours
until morning. Paddock was a regular
at the Mandalay, and several casino
hosts knew him. The videos show
their interactions as being completely normal
and in no way alarming. Remember, in two days, Paddock has brought
12 cases upstairs. He spends most of
Wednesday in his room, and that evening repeats
a similar pattern. He leaves the Mandalay,
again carrying two suitcases. He stops at the Ogden and
drives home to Mesquite. On Thursday, he buys a
.308 bolt-action rifle from a gun store and
visits a nearby gun range before driving back
to the Mandalay. That night, he again
uses the valet service and a bellman to carry
a white container and three suitcases
to his room. His arsenal of weapons
is growing. Again, he gambles
through the night. It’s now Friday,
and at 8 p.m., the Route 91 Harvest
Festival will open in the fairgrounds
across from the Mandalay. Paddock stays in his room
until around 3 p.m. and uses his laptop
while the suite is cleaned. He checks into the
adjoining room, 134, using the name of his
girlfriend, Marilou Danley. He also tells cleaning staff to leave behind
the food-service cart. Two days later,
Paddock would use this, and one other service cart,
to create a surveillance ring during his attack. Overnight, he makes a
brief trip to Mesquite. Arriving back at the
Mandalay at 6 a.m. with two more suitcases. Soon after noon on
Saturday, he places do not disturb signs
on both room doors. He declines housekeeping. He takes an elevator
to the valet area and sits, waiting for his car. He carries two more
bags to his room. He gambles some more, and that night he makes
a final trip to Mesquite, returning to the Mandalay
at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. He gambles
through the night in the high-limits
slots area, and returns to
his room at 7:37 a.m. It’s 12:16 p.m. when
we see Paddock going back to the
parking garage. The guests exiting the
elevator have no idea that in 10 hours, this
unremarkable figure would commit the
worst mass shooting in modern
American history. He returns from his car,
bringing two suitcases and a smaller bag inside. Since Monday, he has
brought at least 21 cases, two smaller bags, a laptop bag
and a container to his room. This is the last time
we see Paddock, arriving at the 32nd floor. Through the day,
he opens, closes and locks both rooms repeatedly. At thirty-six minutes after 9,
he locks the deadbolt to room 135
for the last time. Four minutes later,
Jason Aldean, who’s headlining
the Route 91 festival, begins his act. Paddock then turns the
deadbolt to room 134. At 10:05, his shooting
rampage begins. In under 10 minutes,
he would kill 58 people and injure over 700,
before taking his own life. He had amassed
23 guns and thousands of rounds
of ammunition. Almost six months
since the attack, Paddock’s motive
remains unknown.

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4 Replies to “How the Las Vegas Gunman Planned a Massacre, in 7 Days of Video | NYT – Visual Investigations”

  1. In October, we pieced together 30 videos to understand how the Las Vegas Massacre unfolded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krr4u6uGdzc

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