The Las Vegas gunman ranted about conspiracy theories in the weeks before he gunned down 58 people and wounded hundreds more from his sniper perch inside a high-rise hotel last year, new documents reveal.
A jailed man who gave a statement to authorities in November said he encountered a man he believed was Stephen Paddock and who told him that Federal Emergency Management Agency “camps” setup after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were “a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and…confiscating guns.”
“Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” the man said Paddock told him less than a month before the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”
Separately, a woman wrote a handwritten account of her experience with Paddock, in which she said she heard him talk about armed standoffs. The woman reportedly overheard Paddock talking with another man at a Las Vegas restaurant three days before the shooting.
She told authorities that Paddock seemed upset about the deadly standoffs between law enforcement officers and militia groups at Waco, Texas in 1993 and Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992.
“At the time, I just thought ‘strange guys’ and I wanted to leave,” the woman told officials.
The Las Vegas Police Department on Wednesday released 1,200 pages of reports, including witness statements and officer testimony on the October massacre. Multiple witnesses who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert said they thought they were hearing fireworks as the shooting was taking place.
The documents were court-ordered to be released to the public. Two weeks ago, the department released body camera footage of police officers entering and combing through Paddock’s hotel room at the Mandalay Bay resort.
The FBI and police have yet to declare a motive for the shooting, though officials have said previously that Paddock, a prolific gambler, was on a losing streak prior to the shooting.
Officials believe Paddock acted alone and the attack had no link to international terrorism. ISIS, however, claimed responsibility for the attack in its immediate aftermath — though officials have dismissed any connection between Paddock and Islamist groups.