|An image of Paddock from his girlfriend's Facebook page|
I was extremely hesitant to cover this monster for a few reasons. For starters, it treads into conspiracy territory and I'd hate for anyone who lost a friend or family member in the horrible attack perpetrated by Stephen Paddock to read this and believe I was being insensitive. The second is that I'm sure there will be someone who would just outright believe I was being insensitive. However, I find the mystery behind Paddock's motivation to be too interesting to pass up. So for that reason, I want to clarify two things.
The first is that this blog entry is strictly about Paddock's motivation—whatever it may have been. I'll be focusing strictly on that and while I'll be covering the conspiracy theories that come with it, I'm not going to cover them in detail. Simply put: there's a lot of claims, but not a whole lot of substance to back then up. Perhaps in the future, I'll revisit them. For now though: it's Paddock's motivation and his motivation alone.
The second is I'm not going to to politicize this. I say this as there is a theory that is political, but I won't be taking sides on it. My intention, as always, is to remain as unbiased as humanly possible.
With that said, let's dive into this tragic story and cover the worst mass shooting in United States history.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin City. It's a place infamous for sex and gambling; the moniker of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” become the unofficial slogan of the city. On the evening of October 1, 2017, a country music concert was being held on the Las Vegas Strip. It was a time to be filled with joy and peace; music and a great escape from reality. That all changed at 10:05 P.M. when gunfire rang out.
A lot of gunfire.
The crowd of 22,000 concertgoers dispersed as over one thousand rounds were fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. For ten straight minutes, the Las Vegas Strip became a war zone until, for reasons unknown, the shooting stopped.
Law Enforcement arrived not long after and quickly went to Paddock's room—with backup arriving roughly fifteen minutes later—and evacuated the other suites. A half hour later, a SWAT team arrived on the scene and got to the 32nd floor via a stairwell near where Paddock's room was. After the hallway had been evacuated, a little over an hour after he'd begun shooting, the SWAT team blew down Paddock's door and went inside.
As is the case with many of these mass shootings: Stephen Craig Paddock had committed suicide via a self inflicted gunshot to the head. He was 64 years old.
58 people (excluding Paddock himself) died that night, another 851 being wounded becoming far and away the deadliest act of domestic violence in United States history, and the deadliest act of violence since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As is the case any attack though, the FBI launched an investigation into Stephen Paddock. Who was he, why did he do this, and where did he get the firearms that he possessed?
Well, to answer that first question: Paddock was a former accountant and a real estate investor. He was twice married, had a pilot's license and owned two planes, was a registered Republican (this will be relevant later), an Atheist according to an ex-wife (this will also be relevant later), a staunch supporter of the second amendment (see the past two parenthetical comments), was someone who kept a low profile, and was described as a “generous”, intelligent, and methodical man by some while others said he was paranoid and rather weird.
For the most part, Paddock was a rather normal, everyday man on the outside. He had his quirks, but wasn't any different at first, second, or even twentieth glance. However, as time went on, Paddock's finances began to dwindle. He started purchasing firearm after firearm; one person saying he believed that Hurricane Katrina was a precursor to FEMA going door to door to confiscate guns. It was also discovered that Paddock had hundreds of images of child pornography on his computer when police searched his house. Perhaps coincidentally, over 600 pornographic images of children were also discovered to be on Paddock's brother's computer: Bruce Paddock.
In the months leading up to the attack, Paddock often smelled of alcohol. He was prescribed Valium, and had been taking that—though doctors often said he'd never take any medication they suggested due to his anti-government views and beliefs that tyranny was lurking around any and every corner. This, coupled with what was stated above, led investigators and the FBI to a conclusion that seemed rather sound: Paddock was likely bipolar and snapped for one reason or another.
There was a problem however: Paddock was never diagnosed as being Bipolar. His brain was also checked postmortem and showed no abnormalities. For all intents and purposes, Paddock was a normal person, save for the massacre, child porn, and the fact he’s now dead.
So if Paddock wasn't bipolar, what was his issue? Well, that's the million dollar question. Nobody knows. When you look at some of the most notorious mass murderers—be it Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz, Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh, or Ted Kaczynski (better known as the Unabomber)—they almost always leave a manifesto explaining why they did it. In the case of Cruz, he left YouTube videos and when a comment saying he was “going to be a professional school shooter”. McVeigh wrote an eight page essay Kaczynski had his manifesto published in a newspaper due to a threat of more bombings.
In the case of Paddock however, he left no manifesto. No essay, no video, nothing. He never told anyone he was going to snap, that he had deem fantasies, or expressed any sort of anger towards any group of people. Although Paddock's views on the government may come across as questionable to some, and his child porn is definitely something unnerving, Paddock's outward demeanor and his apparent “quiet, to himself” description from those who knew him around town only raises more questions than answers.
What was he hiding that made him go ballistic? Well, there exist a plethora of theories that explain this, so let's get to them.
Theory one is that Paddock was really a CIA/FBI agent and was involved in an arms deal—either with ISIS or a drug cartel—that went south.
Perhaps the most popular conspiracy theory surrounding Paddock, this theory is one that I'll admit I bought into. It helped clear up a lot of the mystery about Paddock, and very well at that. I wish to preface this by saying I'm being fast and loose with details. So my apologies. Anyways, the theory goes as follows: Paddock lived a secretive life—hence him being a very quiet man—and worked undercover. One day, he gets a mission to do an exchange with either ISIS or a cartel; the idea being that perhaps the CIA or FBI will track the firearms to their hideout and arrest them, or something to that effect.
However, something goes wrong and Paddock's cover is blown and he's killed. As an act of revenge, ISIS/the cartel extract revenge and use the guns that were to be sold to them to kill the concertgoers outside the hotel. After that, they either fled or were quietly arrested by the SWAT team.
One of the biggest talking points to this theory is the fact that no security camera footage of the floor (I believe) Paddock's room was on has ever been released. This has led to an exorbitant amount of speculation; some believing that it showed the real perpetrators while others suspect it showed both them and CIA/FBI agents there.
As said before: I actually bought into this theory for a while. As time went on though, that belief I started to wane. Mostly because—to put it bluntly—there's only so much faith I can hold in a theory before it feels like I'm holding out for a miracle that's never going to be given to me.
Ultimately, the idea that Paddock was a government agent is something that could be legitimate—there’s not much other than “there's no evidence” to disprove it—but this theory has been thrown around a lot in the past. For example: Sirhan Sirhan, the man who killed Robert F. Kennedy, was said to be a Manchurian Candidate.
What of ISIS or the cartel? That's a mixed bag. Although ISIS claims to have jihadis in the United States, and there have been people who've been radicalized like Pulse Nightclub Shooter Omar Mateen, there's never been definitive proof that there's a collective of ISIS jihadis in the US.
On the flip side: there is a presence of Mexican and South American drug cartel members in the US. Now the exact size is debated on. Some will claim they're coming in by the thousands, other will say it's less. Regardless, firearm exchanges by US agencies with the cartel isn't too uncommon. During the Obama administration, there was the controversial “Operation: Fast and Furious”. Carried out by Eric Holder's FBI, weapons were sold to the Mexican drug cartel. The intention was to track them, but they were eventually lost. However, one of them was later used in the murder of a border patrol agent. We'll be covering this more much later in the year though.
The idea that current US president Donald Trump may have wanted to have the CIA or FBI to attempt a similar operation to Fast and Furious is a tad outlandish considering his stance on intelligence agencies, and the lack of any whistleblower saying something akin to, “look at what Trump authorized!” is extremely odd. Nonetheless, there remains the fact that there's absolutely no proven motivation to what Paddock. So, in the eyes of some, there's actually the possibility—albeit a slim one—this theory could be legitimate.
The second theory is that Paddock was a jihadist radicalized by ISIS.
Shortly after the attack, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Paddock was one of theirs. Investigators found no concrete connections between Paddock—who as said earlier was an atheist—and ISIS. This attempt at claiming responsibility set off a flurry of jokes about the ever dwindling control ISIS has in the Middle East and how they're becoming desperate to involve fear in the hearts of the western world.
That said: the theory goes he was radicalized by ISIS. One has to wonder why or how a Republican was radicalized by Islamic extremists, especially with Paddock supposedly being a supporter of President Trump. Nonetheless, this theory has some supporters, though nowhere near as many as some others.
The third theory is that Paddock was a radicalized Democrat and his attack was motivated by his desire to have stronger gun control laws put in place.
This theory's a very popular one—and is one of two theories related to gun control. This one goes as follows: the media, feds, CIA, and others covered up Paddock's motive of massacring Republican concertgoers and his real political alignment with the Democratic party, instead manufacturing the narrative that we have now.
Although some who knew Paddock have said he didn't have a political alignment, others have said he was a Republican, Trump supporter. The latter of those two has stuck and it's likely due to his high purchasing of firearms—a trait more common in right leaning citizens. He also bought high end telescopic sights for said firearms.
In spite of that, it took little to no time for theories that Paddock was a Democrat to become very popular among those who went against whatever was being reported. Is there any evidence for it? Well, members of gun clubs and frequenters of gun ranges claimed to have almost never seen him—an oddity in the eyes of some considering Paddock's enthusiasm for guns, and some notes found about maximizing his accuracy. Although we only have the word of some of those who knew him that he was a Trump supporter, we also only have the word of those others that he had no alignment. Should the latter be true, there could be the possibility he was in favor of tighter gun laws.
Theory four is that this was a false flag operation conducted by the CIA.
False flags are operations carried out by one party and then pinned on another. For example: the conspiracy that 9/11 was carried out by Mossad/the CIA, but it was pinned on al Qaeda. In this case, the CIA did it for all of the reasons above: gun control and bigger government. What the Deep State wants, it gets by any means necessary. Although that theory is in of itself a crazy train.
Everything I said in the previous theory generally ties into here. The Deep State theory is one I'll cover in the future, but by and large: something so big is bound to have its defectors. The idea that nobody has come out and exposed any inside jobs id quote laughable. Also, those who claim to have I'll cover another day though. Until then, this theory is questionable at best and silly at worst. Even though there's no official motivation, I'd put no stock in it being a false flag operation.
The fifth theory is that Paddock had an accomplice and information is being withheld in order to find him. Officially, Paddock worked alone. I personally don't see much evidence to support this theory. Thanks said, Timothy McVeigh was seen with a still unidentified man when purchasing necessities to make his explosives. If Paddock did have an accomplice and the CIA/FBI know that he has connections to other organizations of interest, it's entirely possible there's a cover up—albeit for the greater good. We may not know for a while if Paddock's accomplice was tied to, say, ISIS or a drug cartel.
The sixth and final theory is that Paddock was merely insane.
This theory is the most popular by those extremely skeptical of conspiracies and law enforcement in general. Which Paddock's brain showed no irregularities, there do exist those who are nothing more than crazy. You need not look further than some of America's most notorious serial killers. Look at the Zodiac killer, a person whose motivation was that “he liked killing people because it's so much fun”.
While the idea may be underwhelming to some, not everything is a grand conspiracy to bring an a tyrannical government. There do exist events that happen because of evil people. The world is a massive place—and there's over seven billion humans on Earth. There's bound to exist a fair number who are, to put it bluntly, insane. Could it be possible Paddock wasn't crazy, but a pawn in a bigger scheme? Sure. We don't know. Nobody outside those who directly worked in the case do.
Look, don't get me wrong: I don't believe that Paddock was a CIA or FBI agent. I don't believe that the Las Vegas Shooting was a false flag attack. What I'm getting at is this: without any sort of manifesto or letter, conspiracy theories really do help fill in many of the holes that surround Paddock's inhuman act of violence. Likewise however, they also add new holes that can't be easily filled.
The truth behind the attack may never be known unless some evidence is revealed to the public or someone who supplied Paddock with his weapons is caught or comes forward and confesses. Until that day, I personally believe that the attack was likely the result of something that set off Paddock. No matter what, the events that transpired October 1, 2017 is an example that monsters do exist and you never know when one is close by. Let's hope and pray that nobody ever tries to outdo what Paddock did.