Newly released surveillance video shows some of Stephen Paddock’s movements and activities before the Oct. 1 massacre. By itself, much of the footage at Mandalay Bay seems to show a typical visitor to the Strip.
But knowing that Paddock eventually killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at the nearby Route 91 Harvest festival from the 32nd floor of the hotel, do the clips show any security lapses?
“Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an incident to expose a gap in the security plans, and this appears to be one of those instances,” said Jeff Zisner, president and CEO of AEGIS Security & Investigations, a Southern California consulting firm.
Hotel and security pros told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that massacres such as Paddock’s can be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent. His activities, at least in the surveillance footage, also appear largely innocuous.
But, experts said, there are steps hotels can take to look for future possible attackers.
Zisner said he figures it’s “out of the ordinary” for guests to accompany the bellhop to their room.
Still, the footage shows regular luggage, not firearms cases, according to Doug Poppa, former security director at the Riviera.
Also, it isn’t abnormal in Las Vegas for guests to bring numerous bags. And even if they did it several times during their stay, there’s a good chance no one would notice or be alarmed by it, given the massive crowds of tourists, conventioneers and others walking around megaresorts every day.
Mandalay Bay, for instance, has about 3,200 rooms, making it only the 10th-largest hotel in town, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority data.
If the same staffer met a visitor at the front desk on three occasions and brought up five bags each time, this “might” trigger something. But in general, it’s neither “memorable” nor “notable” when a guest has several bags, said professor Steven Carvell of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
The volume of people passing through a Las Vegas hotel is “incredible,” he said, adding: “Those guys are checking people in with luggage all day long.”
Bill Nesbitt, founder of Security Management Services International, said it “would not be unreasonable” for hotels to require that bellmen handle all large bags. Those workers typically use back-of-the-house elevators in Las Vegas, he said, and staff could use X-ray scanners or trained sniffer dogs to check the bags.
“This would be unobtrusive and likely would not be construed as an invasion of privacy,” Nesbitt said.
AEGIS’ Zisner said that some hotels are now implementing policies that include briefing all employees on suspicious behavior or requiring daily service in rooms, even if the Do Not Disturb sign is on the door, something Paddock reportedly used.
“This doesn’t mean staff will be snooping through your stuff, rather they will simply report to a manager if something seems out of place,” Zisner said.
MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement Thursday that the company and Mandalay Bay “could not reasonably foresee that a long-time guest with no known history of threats or violence and behaving in a manner that appeared outwardly normal, would carry out such an inexplicably evil, violent and deadly act.”
But as one industry pro sees it, Las Vegas, with its massive resorts, is vulnerable to attacks like the Oct. 1 rampage, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Paddock, 64, killed himself before police reached his room.
“Casinos are just not geared up for predicting a Stephen Paddock-type event. Who is?” said World Game Protection Conference founder Willy Allison. “The bigger (the) casino is, the easier it is for predators to hide amongst the masses of staff and other customers.”
Contact Eli Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal writers Todd Prince and Wade Tyler Millward contributed to this report.