The investigation into the motives of a Las Vegas retiree who killed 58 people in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history turned on Tuesday to the gunman’s girlfriend in the Philippines, where she turned up after the massacre, authorities said.
Marilou Danley, who U.S. authorities have said is a “person of interest” in the investigation, left for the U.S. on Tuesday evening, police and immigration sources at Manila’s international airport told Reuters.
She arrived in Manila in September, they said.
“Her trip back to the U.S. was co-ordinated with FBI authorities,” a police official said.
Returning to clear her name
Danley had left Manila unescorted but would be met by FBI on her arrival in the United States, the official said.
He said she was returning to clear her name of any involvement in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
(The Associated Press, citing an anonymous law enforcement official, said she had arrived in L.A. Tuesday evening and been met by the FBI.)
Stephen Paddock, who killed himself moments before police stormed the hotel suite he had transformed into a sniper’s nest on Sunday night, left no clear clues about why he staged his attack on an outdoor concert below the highrise building.
Law enforcement authorities are hoping to obtain some answers from Danley, who has been identified as Paddock’s live-in companion. The Philippine police official said authorities in Manila were told that Paddock used identification belonging to Danley, who has an Australian passport, when checking in to the Las Vegas hotel.
$100K wire transfer
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Danley was a “person of interest” in the investigation. He reiterated police had no other suspects in the shooting itself.
Danley had been sharing Paddock’s condo at a retirement community in Mesquite, Nev., about 130 kilometres northeast of Las Vegas, according to police and public records.
Investigators were examining a $100,000 wire transfer Paddock, 64, sent to an account in the Philippines that “appears
to have been intended” for Danley, a senior U.S. homeland security official told Reuters on Tuesday.
The official, who has been briefed regularly on the probe but spoke on condition of anonymity, said the working assumption of investigators was that the money was intended as a form of life insurance payment for Danley.
Shooter may have rehearsed
The official said U.S. authorities were eager to question Danley, who described herself on social media websites as a
“casino professional,” mother and grandmother, about whether Paddock encouraged her to leave the United States before he went on his rampage.
The official said investigators had also uncovered evidence that Paddock may have rehearsed his plans at other venues before ultimately carrying out his attack on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival from the 32nd floor suite of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
Fresh details about the massacre and the arsenal Paddock amassed emerged on Tuesday.
Police said Paddock strafed the concert crowd with bullets for nine to 11 minutes before taking his own life, and had set
up cameras inside and outside his hotel suite so he could see police as they closed in on his location.
A total of 47 firearms were recovered from three locations searched by investigators — Paddock’s hotel suite, his home in Mesquite, and another property associated with him in Reno, according to Jill Snyder, special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
Snyder said 12 of the guns found in the hotel room were fitted with so-called bump-stock devices that allow the guns to
be fired virtually as automatic weapons. The devices are legal under U.S. law, even though fully automatic weapons are for the most part banned.
The rifles, shotguns and pistols were purchased in four states — Nevada, Utah, California and Texas — Snyder told reporters at an evening news conference.
A search of Paddock’s car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be formed into explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building that killed 168 people, Lombardo said earlier.
Photos of gunman’s body
Police also confirmed that photos widely published online showing the gunman’s body, his hands in gloves, lying on the
floor beside two firearms and spent shell casings, were authentic crime-scene images obtained by media outlets. An
internal investigation was under way to determine how they were leaked.
Video footage of the shooting spree on Sunday night caught by those on the ground showed throngs of people screaming in horror, some crouching in the open for cover, hemmed in by fellow concert-goers, and others running for cover as extended bursts of gunfire rained onto the crowd of some 20,000.
Police had put the death toll at 59 earlier on Tuesday, not including the gunman. However, the coroner’s office revised the confirmed tally to 58 dead, plus Paddock, on Tuesday night.
More than 500 people were injured, some trampled in the pandemonium. At least 20 of the survivors admitted to one of
several hospitals in the area, University Medical Center, remained in critical condition on Tuesday, doctors said.
At least 4 Canadians died
At least four Canadians are among the dead and six others were injured. The parents of 23-year-old B.C. man Jordan McIldoon said their son was killed at the festival. Jessica Klymchuk of Valleyview, Alta., was also killed. She had four school-age children and worked at a local Catholic school in the Alberta town. Calla Medig of Edmonton is also among the dead.
Heather Gooze, a Las Vegas bartender who was working at the festival, told CBC’s Carol Off that she stayed with McIldoon after he was shot.
“I would never want myself or one of my family members to be left alone,” Gooze told the As It Happens host. “I needed to make sure that they could identify him, that they knew who he was, that they knew he has a girlfriend who was here.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday to express condolences after the attack, “as well as expressing our direct condolences to the families of the Canadians lost in that attack, and the many people injured while they were on vacation.”
‘True feat of heroism’
The union representing firefighters disclosed that a dozen off-duty firefighters who were attending the music festival were shot while trying to render aid to other spectators, two of them while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on victims.
“This is a true feat of heroism on their part,” said Ray Rahne of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
But the central, unanswered question to the bloodshed was what drove the gunman’s actions.
Federal, state and local investigators have found no evidence that Paddock had even incidental contacts with foreign
or domestic extremist groups, and reviews of his history showed no underlying pattern of criminal behaviour or hate speech, the homeland security official said.
While investigators had not ruled out the possibility of mental illness or some form of brain injury, “there’s no evidence of that, either,” the official said.