Las Vegas gunman’s girlfriend says no advance knowledge of massacre

This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock. (Courtesy of Eric Paddock via AP)

The girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people and himself in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said she had no idea he was “planning violence against anyone.”

Marilou Danley, who returned late on Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines and is regarded by investigators as a “person of interest,” said through a lawyer that the carnage Stephen Paddock unleashed while she was abroad caught her completely unaware.

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” Danley, 62, said in a written statement read to reporters by her attorney in Los Angeles, where the FBI was questioning her.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation official in Las Vegas, meanwhile, said no one has been taken into custody. But Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters he found it hard to believe that the arsenal of weapons, ammunition and explosives recovered by police in their investigation could have been assembled by Paddock completely on his own.

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“You have to make an assumption that he had some help at some point,” Lombardo said at a news briefing. Lombardo said the attack was the obvious outcome of meticulous planning. “What we know is that Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood,” the sheriff said.

Nearly 500 people were also injured when Paddock, 64, strafed an outdoor concert with gunfire on Sunday night from his 32nd-floor suite of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. He took his own life before police stormed his room, bringing the total death toll to 59.

Police recovered nearly 50 firearms from three locations they searched, nearly half of them from the hotel suite. Twelve of the rifles there were fitted with so-called bump stocks, officials said, allowing the guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons.

In response to a question, Lombardo said investigators were examining the possibility Paddock’s purchase of more than 30 guns in October 2016 may have been precipitated by some triggering event in his life. He did not elaborate.

Image released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department of Marilou Danley in connection to a shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, on October 2, 2017. (Reuters)

Image released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department of Marilou Danley in connection to a shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, on October 2, 2017. (Reuters)

‘Caring, quiet man’

In her statement after being questioned in Los Angeles, Paddock’s girlfriend Danley insisted she knew Paddock as “a kind, caring, quiet man.” “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.” Her lawyer, Matt Lombard, said Danley was “fully cooperating” with the investigation.

Danley, an Australian citizen of Filipino heritage, said she flew back to the United States voluntarily “because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them.”

Danley, who was twice married before her relationship with Paddock, became a focus of the investigation for having shared his retirement community condo in Mesquite, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas, before leaving the United States for the Philippines in mid-September.

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FBI agents met her plane at Los Angeles International Airport before interviewing her, two US officials briefed on the case told Reuters. As of midday Wednesday, there was no indication she was aware of Paddock’s plans, they said.

“Assuming she had no role in his actions, the most important thing is any light she can shed on Paddock’s motive,” said one official, who spoke about the investigation on condition of anonymity. Danley said Paddock had bought her an airline ticket to visit her family and wired her money to purchase property there, leading her to worry he might be planning to break up with her.

Paddock’s brother Eric told reporters the $100,000 transfer was evidence that “Steve took care of the people he loved,” and that he likely wanted to protect Danley by sending her overseas before the attack.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
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