Updated January 12, 2018 - 7:16 pm
Within hours of the Las Vegas massacre that left 58 people dead, the gunman’s girlfriend had deleted her Facebook account, according to search warrants unsealed Friday.
From a 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay suite, Stephen Paddock rained gunfire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival minutes after 10 p.m. on Oct. 1.
Metropolitan Police Department investigators noticed that Marilou Danley, the gunman’s girlfriend, who was in the Philippines at the time, set her Facebook account to private at 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 2 and had deleted the account by 2:46 a.m., according to an affidavit included in more than 300 pages of documents handed over Friday by federal prosecutors after U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey ordered them unsealed.
Authorities released Paddock’s name about an hour after Danley deleted her account. By 5 a.m., she had been located and identified as “a person of interest” in the shooting.
The pages of documents made public Friday after lawsuits filed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other media outlets include requests from investigators for information found on social media accounts linked to Paddock and Danley. Search warrant requests also sought access to Paddock’s email accounts and his homes in Mesquite and Reno.
“We’re glad that the federal court — and the government — recognized that the federal warrant materials should be released today, but we’re still fighting for access to additional records,” Review-Journal attorney Maggie McLetchie said. “Transparency is more, not less, important in the wake of a tragedy like 1 October. The public should be given as much information as possible so it can assess the events of 1 October — and the law enforcement response.”
Prosecutors did not oppose the request by media organizations to unseal the records.
“The release of these documents is a good start toward complete transparency for records related to the Oct. 1 shooting,” Review-Journal Managing Editor Glenn Cook said. “With the shooter dead and no indication that co-conspirators were involved, authorities have no legitimate reason to lock down records related to their investigations. They’re doing the public’s business. The public’s business must be public.”
Within Paddock’s email accounts, investigators had identified a July 6 thread that appears to contain messages sent by Paddock to himself.
Paddock’s email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, identified by authorities as “Target Account 1,” sent a message to an account identified as email@example.com, another email address linked to the shooter, stating: “try an ar before u buy we have huge selection located in the las vegas area.”
Later that same day, the first account received a message stating: “we have a wide variety of optics and ammunition to try.”
Another email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org from Paddock on the same day stated: “for a thrill try out bumpfire ar’s with a 100 round magazine.”
Investigators said the exchange could be “related to the eventual attack that occurred at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.”
More than 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition and 100 pounds of explosive material were discovered in Paddock’s vehicle, while 18 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition were found in his Mesquite home.
“While investigators obtained a DNA buccal swab sample from Danley,” one search warrant request stated, “she spontaneously stated that her fingerprints would likely be found on Paddock’s ammunition because she occasionally participated in loading magazines.”