Images of the high rise suite from which Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock killed 59 people have emerged.
Paddock, who killed himself before police got to his rooms at the Mandalay Bay hotel, smashed two windows with a hammer to open up his sniper’s nest and fire upon crowds.
High end furnishings in the luxury suite from which Paddock unleashed a barrage of gunfire are visible, as are a series of lamps still burning following the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Police say 23 guns were found in the room where Paddock took his own life, some of them assault-style rifles with scopes and some that appeared to have been modified in an attempt to convert them into machine guns.
Boston25 anchor Jacqui Heinrich has tweeted images of two of the guns reportedly found in Paddock’s room, along with a hammer and many rounds of ammo.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Paddock had been staying in the suite since Thursday, having arrived with ten suitcases. He added a search of the suspect’s car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser compound that can be used in explosives. It was used in the 1995 truck bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.
Police found a further 19 firearms, some explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at Paddock’s home in Mesquite, about 90 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Fully automatic weapons
Paddock may have used fully automatic weapons - or guns legally modified to act like them. Largely outlawed three decades ago, Reuters reports Paddock may have altered semi-automatic rifles - such as the AR-15 - which fire a round every time the trigger is pulled, to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. “From the audio, that is not someone who has a traditional semi-automatic rifle firing it in its normal condition,” said David Chipman, a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who advises the gun control group Americans for Responsible Solutions. “Either it’s a machine gun or it’s been modified. I don’t believe a human can do that with his finger.” A “bump stock”, for example, replaces a semi-automatic rifle’s stock, which rests against the shoulder to provide stability and absorb recoil. The bump stock causes the gun’s recoil to press against the shooter’s finger after each shot, firing rounds much more quickly than possible by pulling it manually.
Police said Paddock, who shot and wounded a hotel security officer in the leg through the door of his suite before turning the gun on himself, had no criminal record.
“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.”
Federal officials said there was no evidence to link Paddock to militant organisations.
Chris Sullivan, the owner of the Guns & Guitars gun shop in Mesquite, issued a statement confirming that Paddock was a customer who cleared “all necessary background checks and procedures,” and said his business was cooperating with investigators.
“He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time,” Sullivan said. He did not say how many or the kinds of weapons Paddock purchased there.