The ATF is conducting urgent traces on 42 guns linked to the retired accountant police say is responsible for Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas.
At a press conference Monday evening, Assistant Clark County Sheriff Todd Fasulo said 64-year-old Stephen Paddock had 23 guns in the Mandalay Bay hotel room where he opened fire. At his home in Mesquite, Nevada, officers found another 19 firearms, as well as explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
As many as 16 of the guns were rifles, according to Clark County Sherif Joe Lombardo, in calibers ranging from .223 to .308. Lombardo said some of the rifles in Paddock’s two-room suite were equipped with scopes and had been modified to shoot full-auto.
“I don’t know if the sear pins have been filed down or whether they’ve been converted to fully automatic,” he said, adding that the ATF is trying to figure out how the rifles were modified.
While the ATF works on tracing the weapons, representatives from at least two gun stores say Paddock purchased weapons legally from them recently. Christopher Sullivan is the general manager at Guns and Guitars in Mesquite — the town where Paddock lived. Sullivan told the New York Times that the shooter cleared a federal background check when he purchased a handgun and two rifles from his shop in the last year.
“The man does not have a criminal history,” Sullivan said of the shooter.
Across the border in St. George, Utah, about 40 minutes from Mesquite, Dixie GunWorx owner Chris Michel said Paddock legally bought a shotgun back in February. Michel said he spoke with Paddock for a while to make sure there wasn’t any reason he shouldn’t have a gun. “There were no red flags,” Michel said, adding “I had no idea he would be capable of this.”
“My gut fell out from underneath me,” he said. “I mean, it was the worst thing I could ever imagine.”
Another gun seller in Arizona spoke with authorities and said Paddock had purchased weapons from him, and a federal law enforcement officer said Paddock may have bought several weapons at a Cabela’s in Verdi, Nevada.
At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured Sunday night when Paddock opened fire from two windows in his 32nd floor hotel room. Police say the shooter had brought “in excess of 10” suitcases to the room. In addition to using scopes on the modified rifles, police say tripods were also in the room, which would have allowed Paddock to fire more accurately.
Authorities say SWAT officers were met with gun fire as they tried to breach the shooter’s hotel room Sunday night. When they got in, they found Paddock dead of an apparent self inflicted gun shot wound.