A judge has ordered the FBI to destroy the majority of the weapons owned by the gunman who murdered dozens of concertgoers during the 2017 Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting.
The order from District Judge Gloria Sturman was filed Thursday, just days before the fifth anniversary of the massacre. The shooting initially left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured, with two final victims dying of their injuries more than two years after the shooting.
“We’re very happy that we were able to obtain this order causing the destruction of the guns and firearms on this fifth anniversary,” said Alice Denton, the attorney for the administrator of the gunman’s estate. “We believe the destruction may bring some solace and some comfort to the families of those who were killed or hurt in the incident, knowing that those guns and firearms will never be used to hurt another husband, wife, loved one, spouse or child ever again.”
The firearms have been in the possession of the FBI since the shooting, but have been caught up in lengthy legal battles. Thursday’s order allows the FBI to keep some of the firearms recovered from the crime scene, but only for law enforcement purposes such as ballistics tests, Denton said.
Denton said any firearms kept by the FBI will never be released from the agency’s custody. She said the resolution of other legal battles surrounding the massacre have finally freed the firearms to be destroyed.
The gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed himself shortly after the attack and did not leave a will, so his mother inherited his assets. She didn’t want the money, and there were debates in the years following the shooting whether the guns should be sold and the money donated to the victims’ families.
Denton said the firearms were also seized from the gunman’s properties in Mesquite and Reno, and some were recovered from a consignment shop.