The authorities remain stumped as to what triggered the Oct. 1 Strip massacre. But we can now dismiss speculation that the gunman, Stephen Paddock, may have some sort of physical ailment that prompted the shooting. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, meeting with Review-Journal editors and reporters on Tuesday afternoon, said an autopsy of the shooter turned up “nothing” to help in formulating a motive.
The sheriff wears the gravity of recent events. “People want answers now,” he said. “But this is going to take time.” He has become the international face of a Las Vegas tragedy that killed 58 and left almost 500 wounded. The attention “is difficult,” he said, “because it’s for all the wrong reasons. … I’m not comfortable with it.”
The sheriff noted that police have interviewed all of Paddock’s siblings and ex-wives. His girlfriend continues to be questioned in Los Angeles. He reiterated that investigators have yet to find any “trigger point” and that they have so far turned up none of the red flags that traditionally characterize these types of heinous civilian attacks.
All this, along with the chaos as the event unfolded, has proved fertile ground for conspiracies. But Sheriff Lombardo dismissed the rumors. “I’m comfortable saying there wasn’t a second shooter,” he said, adding that it could be possible Paddock had some help somewhere along the way.
The sheriff also revealed that the death toll could potentially have included Mandalay Bay guests. When Paddock fired an estimated 200 rounds at a casino security guard prior to opening fire on concertgoers from the 32nd floor, some of those bullets penetrated occupied guest rooms at the hotel. Luckily, nobody was hit.
Police still don’t know precisely when Paddock killed himself or why he stopped shooting. While some of his guns had jammed, he still had usable weapons and ammunition. But with each advancing day, the sheriff said, investigators learn a bit more and the “net is getting smaller.” FBI profilers will have a vital role in synthesizing any information.
When Paddock began firing, Sheriff Lombardo was at a steakhouse at The Venetian having dinner with friends. A phone call alerted him to the emergency. He rushed out of the restaurant, retrieved his vehicle and made his way south on the Strip, lights and siren on. Like other emergency workers, when others were running for their lives, Sheriff Lombardo was heading toward the danger.
There will no doubt be plenty of second-guessing as the investigation proceeds. That’s natural, and often healthy, in times of crisis. But at this point, Metro and its officers deserve nothing but accolades — as does the sheriff, who has conducted himself with character and integrity amid intense pressure to provide explanations that remain elusive.