LAS VEGAS — Video from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay resort — from its valet area, elevators, restaurants, gambling floors and hallways — show that in the days before Stephen Paddock committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history, he did nothing terribly remarkable.
The gunman, who took his life after killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others last year by spraying bullets from his 32nd-floor room, comes and goes from the hotel, each time returning with more suitcases and bags, video footage released by the hotel’s parent company shows.
Over seven days, Paddock, 64, also returns to his home in Mesquite, Nevada, and stops at The Ogden condominium complex, about 6 miles from the hotel. On two occasions, he is seen in a Mandalay Bay elevator, leaving the hotel with some of his rollaboards.
During that week, Paddock or the hotel’s bellmen tote 21 suitcases, two small bags, a laptop bag and a white container to his room, the perch from which he perpetrated his October 1 massacre on a country music festival across the street from the hotel, the video shows.
He smiles and laughs with bellmen, sliding them tips after they unload his minivan and roll the laden golden luggage trolleys in and out of his rooms.
At other times, the 6-foot-4 professional gambler lopes, shoulders slightly hunched, through gaming areas and steps onto elevators — the ordinariness of his movements camouflaging his dark aims. He buys snacks, watches TV.
When he isn’t out and about or holed up in his room, he partakes in the hotel’s sushi and visits its VIP desk. He gambles through the night, opting to take on machines rather than the humans testing their skill at green felt tables.
A regular at the Mandalay Bay, according to the newspaper, the gunman appears to know many employees, with whom he shares smiles, friendly nods and handshakes.
Nothing he does serves as harbinger of the bloodshed he would exact that Sunday, smashing the windows of his luxury suite — stocked, by then, with 23 guns and thousands of bullets, many packed into high-capacity magazines — and raining gunfire onto concertgoers.
MGM Resorts said Paddock “gave no indication of what he planned to do” and the hotel staff could not foresee violence from a man “behaving in a manner that appeared outwardly normal.”
The stoic machinations of such an evil man have been a theme since the days immediately after the shooting.
His girlfriend has said she had no idea he sought to commit such unspeakable crimes. Other loved ones remembered his quiet generosity. Neighbors had different takes: While one said he was private and unfriendly, never reciprocating basic salutations, another said he was a “gentle giant” and gave the impression he had no familiarity with firearms.
Yet through it all — the gigs of surveillance footage, half a year of investigation, cell phone and property records, countless accounts from anyone who so much as served him coffee — the latest crop of video fails to answer the only question, perhaps, that still matters: Why?