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Questions remain about ex-con’s friendship with Las Vegas mass shooter

Jimmy Nixon has changed his story several times.

The 75-year-old Texas man and convicted fraudster said he exchanged letters with Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock in the years before the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre.

Black and white copies of Nixon’s handwritten letters, released by the Metropolitan Police Department last month, portray Nixon as growing increasingly concerned with Paddock’s apparent talk of guns and possibly harming people.

“Please don’t go out shooting or hurting people who did nothing to you,” Nixon wrote in a letter dated May 27, 2017. “I am concern about the way you are talking and believe you are going to do something very bad.”

The letters suggest that Paddock was hinting at or discussing his plans for what would ultimately be the killing of 60 concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival that he perpetrated from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay before killing himself.

But Nixon’s credibility is in question.

He spent more than 16 years in federal prison after being convicted on 29 counts, including mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

And when questioned by reporters about the supposed correspondence, Nixon repeatedly changed his account of when and how he met Paddock.

In an April 14 interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nixon said he initially met Paddock in Virginia 10 to 12 years before the mass shooting. Eleven days later, he said he met Paddock while fishing at Lake Mead in 2009 or 2010.

But Nixon was in federal custody from May 1997 until December 2013, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Scott Taylor.

Nixon and others had convinced people seeking large business loans to pay him an upfront fee for the loans to be arranged, court documents state. But after the fee was paid, no loans ever materialized and no refund was ever given.

“Defendant Nixon continued to lie to the victims in an attempt to lull the victims into believing that the loans were going to be funded in the near future,” the indictment states.

Nixon later violated conditions of his supervised release by taking on new credit without his probation officer’s approval, and he was sent back to federal prison from June 2017 until February 2019.

Told that it would have been impossible for him to have met Paddock while he was in prison, Nixon initially said he only served eight or nine years, not 16, and that he was released on parole in 2010 or 2011, contradicting prison records.

The letters released by authorities only show Nixon writing to Paddock. There is no evidence that Paddock wrote to Nixon.

Asked if he fabricated the content of the letters and his relationship with Paddock, Nixon bristled.

“So what you’re saying is that I’m a monster and that people lost loved ones in a shooting, a mass shooting, and I’m going to go around and say things that’s detrimental, to hurt them and stuff?” Nixon said. “You’re insulting me.”

Nixon insisted he was being truthful.

“I just told you. Why would I make it up?” Nixon said. “That’s the point. Why would I make it up?”

Later in the second interview, however, Nixon said he had actually met Paddock in the early 1990s at Lake Mead, where the two fished.

“He taught me how to take shrimp, (as) opposed to going and getting worms,” Nixon said. “He taught me how to take shrimp and catch fish.”

Asked if he could provide photos or letters verifying his friendship with Paddock, Nixon said he couldn’t find them.

In one of Nixon’s letters, dated Aug. 3, 2014, he responded to a purported question from Paddock about how many people Nixon killed while deployed in Vietnam.

“Steve you want to know how many men I killed in the Vietnam War? I don’t really like to talk about it because it makes me sad and nightmares come,” Nixon wrote. “But to tell you I killed a lot maybe about 58.”

That number matched the original and longstanding death toll of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting, until Metro added two more deaths to the massacre, making it 60, after Review-Journal reporting showing two people died in 2019 and 2020 from complications from their gunshot wounds.

‘Didn’t want to get involved’

Nixon said he never took Paddock’s comments seriously enough to reach out to authorities, even though the letters suggest that Paddock told him about stockpiling guns, searching for large venues and inquiring about high-rise hotels.

Asked if anyone from law enforcement ever tried to contact him, Nixon said: “Not that I know of.”

He also said he didn’t know how Metro received his letters and that he didn’t contact law enforcement about them.

“I didn’t want to get involved,” Nixon said. “That’s why I didn’t talk to the FBI.”

The letters were released by Metro in response to a records request made by the Review-Journal after the FBI in March released a trove of documents online — many of which were heavily redacted — that offered some insight into Paddock’s final days.

Among those documents was a photo copy of a manila folder authorities said contained copies of 11 letters that Metro received in December 2017, according to the FBI documents.

The FBI records say the letters “were purportedly found in a vacant office building in Mesquite, Texas” and that there was no return address and the folder was not postmarked.

Paddock and his family owned an apartment complex in Mesquite, Texas, until 2012, when the complex was sold, the FBI documents also state.

Sections of the documents are heavily redacted, but it appears that the FBI wanted to “authenticate (redacted) as the letter writer and determine if there was a relationship between (redacted) and Paddock.”

If there was in fact a relationship between the letter writer and Paddock, an investigation should be conducted into what Paddock apparently told the letter writer about a “potential shooting event,” the documents say.

Metro and the FBI both declined multiple requests for comment on this story.

Nixon said Paddock was an “ordinary guy” who in the later years of their purported friendship developed mental problems. He condemned Paddock’s actions on Oct. 1, 2017.

“He took people’s lives, man,” Nixon said. “People died for no reason. You don’t just go shooting people for no reason. That would upset anybody.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter. Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BrettClarkson_ on Twitter.

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