LAS VEGAS (AP) – Investigators are looking into whether gunman Stephen Paddock scoped out bigger music festivals in Las Vegas and Chicago before setting up his perch in a casino hotel and raining deadly fire on country music fans.
Paddock rented rooms overlooking the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in August and the Life Is Beautiful show in late September near the Vegas Strip, according to authorities reconstructing his movements before he undertook the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
It was not clear if he aborted plans to carry out massacres at those events.
The details came to light as investigators struggled to figure out why the high-stakes gambler opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 Sunday night from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel casino. He killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 before taking his own life.
Authorities have been combing through his background but remain stumped as to his motive.
The profile developed so far is of a “disturbed and dangerous” man who acquired an arsenal over decades, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said. But investigators have been frustrated to find that he lived a “secret life,” Lombardo said, “much of which will never be fully understood.”
In other developments:
– In a rare concession on gun control, the National Rifle Association announced its support Thursday for regulating “bump stocks,” attachments that can effectively convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automated weapons. Paddock apparently used such devices during the bloodbath.
– The coroner’s office in Las Vegas would not release details of its autopsy on Paddock. Some behavioral experts have wondered whether the 64-year-old Paddock suffered from some kind of brain abnormality or had a terminal illness that prompted him to lash out.
The weekend before the massacre, he rented a room through Airbnb at the 21-story Ogden condominiums in downtown Las Vegas and stayed there during a music festival below that included Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182.
“Reasons that ran through Paddock’s mind is unknown, but it was directly at the same time as Life Is Beautiful,” the sheriff said.
Police were reviewing video shot at the high-rise to check Paddock’s movements. His renting the condo was curious because as a high-roller, he could have easily gotten a free room at one of the casino hotels on the Vegas Strip.
In early August, Paddock booked a room at Chicago’s 21-story Blackstone Hotel that overlooked the park where the Lollapalooza alternative music festival was being held, though there’s no evidence he actually stayed there, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed on the investigation.
The hotel confirmed a Stephen Paddock made a reservation but said he never checked in.
Lollapalooza draws hundreds of thousands of music fans every year to Grant Park.
Boston’s Police Commissioner William Evans said he could not immediately confirm an NBC report that Paddock researched possible locations there.
Although Paddock killed himself as a SWAT team closed in, Lombardo said it appeared he had planned to survive and had an escape plan. He had 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car, along with fertilizer that can be used to make explosives and 50 pounds of Tannerite, a substance used in explosive rifle targets.
Lombardo said he didn’t know what Paddock intended with the explosives and wouldn’t elaborate on getaway plans.
Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Michael Tarm in Chicago; Brian Melley in Los Angeles; and Sadie Gurman and Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.
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