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World Las Vegas gunman's family ‘completely dumbfounded’ after deadly attack

A man armed with multiple machine guns targeted an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas from a high-rise hotel window on Sunday, killing at least 58 people. Police on Monday identified the gunman in the Las Vegas shooting as Stephen Paddock.

Associated Press

The man who rained bullets on an open-air country music concert from his Las Vegas hotel room on Sunday night gambled avidly and was licensed to hunt in more than one state.

But a day after he committed one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history and took his own life, Stephen Paddock, 64, remained an enigma to former neighbours, family members and law-enforcement agencies, as the search for a motive proceeds amid the grief and horror he sowed.

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Media reports depict an unlikely killer, a wealthy retiree without strong political or religious convictions or a particular zeal for guns who lived in a quiet Nevada suburb with his girlfriend and made frequent trips to the Las Vegas Strip to play video poker and slots.

Speaking to television reporters outside his home in central Florida, Mr. Paddock's brother Eric said he was "shocked, horrified, [and] completely dumbfounded" to learn that his brother was responsible for the shooting.

Eric Paddock said his last communication with his brother was a text exchange about how their 90-year-old mother was doing after Hurricane Irma swept through Florida in early September and that the now-notorious gunman recently sent her a new walker.

His brother said Mr. Paddock owned multiple handguns, which he kept in a safe, and possibly a rifle but no automatic weapons that he knew of, adding that Mr. Paddock wasn't a gun aficionado and hadn't served in the military.

"There was nothing secret or strange" about Mr. Paddock, another relative told The Washington Post.

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Still, police found 23 firearms in Mr. Paddock's 32nd-floor hotel room, from which he fired into the terrified crowd below. Mr. Paddock was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot, according to local police.

Mr. Paddock was licensed to hunt in Alaska and Texas, but police in Las Vegas and Mesquite, Nev., where he lived, say he had no history with law enforcement in either community, save for a routine traffic violation in Las Vegas.

Mr. Paddock's most notable vice appears to have been gambling. According to his brother Eric, speaking to U.S. media on Monday, Stephen Paddock was a retired accountant and real estate developer with enough money to play $100-a-hand poker.

NBC News has reported that Mr. Paddock gambled more than $10,000 a day multiple times in recent weeks, citing law enforcement and casino sources, although it's unclear whether he won or lost money on those wagers. His home in Mesquite, Nev., is about an hour's drive northeast of Las Vegas, which Mr. Paddock frequently visited for gambling trips, according to news interviews with his brother and neighbours.

Oddly, police in Mesquite, Tex. – a suburb of Dallas – say that Mr. Paddock lived there between 2004 and 2012 and owned at least three rental properties in the area, before buying a home in Mesquite, Nev., in 2015. The communities are nearly 2,000 kilometres apart.

Decades ago, Mr. Paddock's father committed his own act of violence in Las Vegas, albeit on a much smaller scale. Eric Paddock said that their father, Patrick Benjamin Paddock, was a notorious bank robber described by the FBI as "extremely dangerous" and "psychopathic."

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When the elder Mr. Paddock was arrested in Las Vegas for a 1960 bank heist, he "attempted to run down an FBI agent with his car," according to a 1971 article in the Tucson Daily Citizen. He landed on the FBI's most wanted fugitive list after escaping from a federal prison in La Tuna, Tex., in 1968.

Mr. Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was out of the country when the shooting happened. Police have said they don't believe she had any involvement in the attack.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the shooting through their Amaq news agency and said that Mr. Paddock converted to Islam months ago. However, several observers have pointed out that the terrorist organization appears to have falsely claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at a Manila casino this summer and that no known evidence links the shooting to IS.

The FBI has said that there is no evidence of any connection between Mr. Paddock and international terror groups.

With files from wire services

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