Las Vegas shooting: What was Stephen Paddock’s motive?

During a press conference on Friday, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that investigators had still not discovered a motive behind the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in US modern history. Sheriff Lombardo said that investigators had determined that Paddock had acted alone during the mass shooting and that his girlfriend Marilou Danley would not face any charges over the incident. It was also revealed during the press conference that Paddock’s computer was found to have indecent images of children on it. Following this press conference, we were still none the wiser as to what motivated this man to commit this dreadful crime.

Since the night of October 1st, many conspiracy theories have been doing the rounds on the internet as to the motive of Steven Paddock. Some of these theories included video purportedly showing a man firing from the 6th floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, suggesting that Paddock was not acting alone. But what do we actually know? In this article I am going to try to outline the facts of this event, and I am also going to be proposing two likely theories of my own. So, what are the reported facts of that night?


On Sunday, October 1st 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel which overlooked the Route 91 Harvest Music festival which was taking place on the Las Vegas strip. During the shooting, Stephen Paddock shot dead 58 people and injured a further 851. Between 22:05 to 22:15, Stephen Paddock fired an estimated 1,100 rounds into the crowd. Stephen Paddock was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after 22:15. The timeline of events as provided by investigators is as follows.

-Shortly before 22:00, security guard Jesus Campos was sent to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel to investigate an “open-door alert” where he discovered a barricaded door which prevented him from accessing the floor.

-After hearing what he thought was drilling coming from Room 32135, which was Paddock’s suite, he was shot in the thigh at approximately 22:05 by one of 200 bullets Paddock fired through the door of his suite.

-Paddock then used a hammer to smash the windows of his suite and began firing through the window at approximately 22:05.

-Paddock began shooting into the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest festival while country musician Jason Aldean was giving the closing performance to a crowd of 22,000 people. Initially concertgoers believed the gunshots to be fireworks. Gunshots would momentarily pause as Stephen Paddock reloaded or changed weapons and then continue.

-Reports which investigators said were false came in of multiple other shooters at locations across the Las Vegas strip. Paddock was eventually spotted by officers who noticed gunfire coming from the north side of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

-At 22:12, two police officers who were on the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay reported gunfire above them.

-At 22:17, the officers reached the 32nd floor, where the injured security guard Campos directed them to Paddock’s room.

-Between 22:26 and 22:30, additional officers reached the 32nd floor. The gunfire had ceased by this stage.

-At roughly 22:55, officers had finished evacuating the entire hotel of guests.

-At 23:20, officers breached Paddock’s room where they found him dead on the floor from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This signalled the end of the incident.

Following a search of Paddock’s hotel suite, officers reported finding 23 firearms and a large amount of ammunition. The firearms found included four DDM4 rifles, three FN-15 rifles, one AR-15 rifle with forward front grip, one .308-caliber AR-10 rifle and one Kalashnikov. Twelve of the guns were fitted with bump-fire stocks which enabled them to fire at a rate of 90 rounds every 10 seconds. 2 of the guns were fitted with telescopic sights and mounted onto tripods.

The amount of sophisticated weaponry found in Paddock’s suite shows that a large amount of planning had to have gone into this shooting. The acquisition of these firearms alone took Stephen Paddock across 4 states to legally acquire the weapons. ATF agents announced that the weapons had been purchased in the states of Nevada, Texas, California and Utah. Paddock had also wired the suite with surveillance cameras so he could monitor comings and goings. A handwritten note in Paddock’s room gives an insight into how meticulously he had planned this mass-murder. The note contained measurements and distances from his 32nd floor hotel suite down to the Route 91 Harvest festival below.

Despite all this planning, investigators have still not been able to determine what drove Paddock to do this. Whenever trying to establish why someone commits such a heinous crime, an investigative tactic used by law enforcement will be to look into the past of the killer to see what might have triggered him to do this or if he had any other motivations. So, what do we know about the man who did this, Stephen Paddock?


Stephen Paddock was born on April 9th, 1953. Not much information is available regarding Stephen Paddock’s past. It was revealed in subsequent investigations that Stephen Paddock was the son of a bank robber named Benjamin Paddock who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list from 1969-1977. On the wanted poster, it was stated that Benjamin Paddock was considered as “dangerous and psychopathic” and had suicidal tendencies.

Stephen Paddock’s life is somewhat of an enigma. He had no known children and had no criminal past. The only interaction he had with law enforcement was a minor traffic citation which he settled years before. He was a successful businessman and former auditor who was reportedly worth millions of dollars. He lived a quiet life in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. He was known to be a high-stakes gambler and heavy drinker. It was reported that Stephen Paddock had lost a significant amount of his wealth in the years leading up to the shooting. This is all the information that is readily available about the life of Stephen Paddock.

So now we move onto the matter of motive. I have concocted 2 potential motives as to why Stephen Paddock may have done this. I must stress that this is simply my opinion and of course people will have their own theories as to why Stephen Paddock did this.


The first motive I suggest to be behind the murderous rampage undertaken by Stephen Paddock is that of an underlying mental psychosis or mental breakdown. It was revealed that Stephen Paddock did take some medication relating to a mental condition before his death. Four months before the rampage, Stephen Paddock was prescribed 50 10mg Diazepam, or Valium tablets which are used to treat anxiety disorders. He was prescribed the tablets by Vegas doctor Steven Winkler on June 21st.

The revelations about Stephen Paddock’s father is also interesting. Paddock’s bank robber father Benjamin was diagnosed as being “dangerous and psychopathic” and that he had suicidal tendencies. Many scientific studies have shown that mental illness can be hereditary and run in families, this provides more credence to the argument that Paddock had a mental problem which caused him to commit this shooting. The little known facts about his personal life also point to a compulsive and unstable personality. He was a heavy drinker and high-stakes gambler. Also, the latest revelations about images of indecent images of children being found on his computer shows that Paddock held disturbed beliefs and engaged in deranged pastimes. It shows that he was truly a sick individual.

There is however some things that can dispute the claim of mental illness. There are many people who are mentally ill and do not engage in some of the sick activities as a man such as Paddock. There is also the schematics of the attack. Stephen Paddock meticulously planned this attack. This was a pre-meditated attack which took months of co-ordination. There appears to be very little anger involved in this attack, friends and relatives such as Paddock’s brother have said that he never appeared to be angry and was always calm. With that being said though, some of the worlds most famous psychopaths presented a respectable veneer, just look at Ted Bundy.


Terrorism is one of the more controversial motives that has been touted as the reasoning behind Paddock’s actions. But there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that does point to a potential terrorist connection. Soon after the attack, terror group ISIS came out and said that they were behind the attack and that Paddock had converted to Islam some months before. In the months leading up to the attack, ISIS had released propaganda saying they were going to attack Las Vegas. In a statement published by the group’s Amaq propaganda agency they claimed Paddock was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” they went on to add “the Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State in response to calls to target coalition countries.” ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack 4 times.

Just days before the attack, Stephen Paddock transferred $100,000 to an account in the Philippines. ISIS have targeted the Philippines in recent years as a potential site for the group to operate in. Back in 2015, ISIS released a propaganda video showing its “soldiers” training in the Filipino jungle in a newly established terrorist training camp. In that same year, 8 members of a local bandit gang who were killed in a firefight with the Filipino military pledged their allegiance to ISIS.

This event took place in Palimbang, a Muslim enclave of the predominately Catholic nation. This area has seen many conflicts over the years and is one of the operating grounds of Abu Sayyaf, who have pledged allegiance to ISIS in recent years. Ever since the Filipino military has been battling ISIS affiliated groups within the country. The fact that Stephen Paddock had a Filipino connection does raise questions about his affiliation with such groups.

Stephen Paddock had indeed visited the Middle East in the year before his death. He took a series of 12 cruises in the year before he committed the mass-shooting, and one of the locations he visited was the Middle East. Some of the popular cruise locations in the Middle East include places such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Oman, the Jordanian port of Aqaba, Bahrain, Qatar and a number of Egyptian ports. Many of these places are known to have a radical Islamist element operating within them.

On Thursday on Tucker Carlson, Republican congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said that he had been made aware of a potential southern border infiltration by terrorists regarding the Las Vegas shooting. He went on to say that twice before the attack in June and August ISIS had threatened to attack Las Vegas.

Terrorism is a factor that has so-far been ruled out by investigators, and although there is no concrete evidence to back up these claims, there is enough circumstantial evidence to provide some credence to the theory that Stephen Paddock was acting on behalf of an Islamist terror group.

Regardless of the motive, the fact remains that 58 people are dead after what is the one of the worst mass murders in American history. But without knowing what drove this man to do this, will the families of these people ever be able to find closure? When there is a void of information, conspiracy theories usually jump in to fill the space left by the lack of concrete facts. The sad truth is, we may never know what drove Paddock to do this. Nearly 3 months after this attack, we still seem no closer to having a definitive answer. The sombre reality of the Las Vegas shooting is that even though we know who pulled the trigger that night, this event could go down as one of the largest murder mysteries in American history.

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