Investigators are trying to determine whether someone else was in the Las Vegas gunman’s hotel room when he was registered there, senior law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told NBC News.
The investigators are puzzled by two discoveries: First, a charger was found that does not match any of the cellphones that belonged to the gunman, Stephen Paddock.
And second, garage records show that during a period when Paddock’s car left the hotel garage, one of his key cards was used to get into his room.
There are several possible explanations for these anomalies, the investigators say, but they want to get to the bottom of it.
At a Friday press conference, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said they did not think there was a second shooter, but he said it was unclear whether or not Paddock had help.
“We’re very confident that there was not another shooter in that room,” McMahill said. “What I cannot confirm to you today, and what we continue to investigate is, whether anybody else may have known about this incident before he carried it out.”
Law enforcement are also examining Paddock’s finances. IRS records show that Paddock was a successful gambler, earning at least $5 million in 2015. Some of that could be from other investments, but most of it was from gambling, officials say.
McMahill said they also found approximately 50 pounds of tannerite and ammonium nitrate — materials that can be used to make explosive devices — in the gunman’s car, but it did not appear that Paddock had assembled the material into an improvised explosive device.
Stephen Paddock U.S. Government / via NBC News
Paddock unleashed a barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay and Casino on Sunday night, killing at least 58 people and injuring about 500 others who were attending a country music festival below.
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His motive is still unclear. Senior law enforcement officials said Paddock, 64, had researched possible attack locations in Boston and Chicago, including the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in August.
Law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation also said Friday that they had learned Paddock approached a gun dealer wanting to buy a large quantity of tracer rounds at a gun show in Phoenix last month.
The dealer did not have the quantity Paddock wanted, so Paddock did not end up buying anything from him, they said. The dealer told law enforcement that Paddock was neatly dressed and polite, and did not say anything that would raise a red flag. He gave the dealer the impression that he wanted the tracer rounds for recreational use with friends.
Law enforcement learned of the encounter because Paddock had an ammunition box bearing the dealer’s name.
McMahill said investigators have not found any connection between Paddock and ISIS, the terror group that claimed responsibility for the attack, a claim it made without offering any proof. The terror group’s claim has been widely discounted.
Investigators have not determined a motive, he said, and have been looking at “everything” including Paddock’s personal life, finances, or any political affiliations in searching for a motive behind the attack.
“We have been down each and every single one of these paths, trying to determine ‘why,'” McMahill said, adding that the investigation will continue and would focus on facts and not rumors or assumptions.
“In the past, terror attacks or mass murder incidents — motive was made very clear. Very clear in most of those cases by a note that was left, by a social media post, by a telephone call that was made, by investigators mining computer data,” McMahill said.
“Today, in our investigation, we don’t have any of that uncovered,” McMahill said. “I wish we did.”
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