A panel of experts failed to determine why a gunman carried out the Route 91 Harvest festival attack, the FBI announced Tuesday.
In a three-page summary report, the agency also reiterated that gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, acted alone.
“Throughout his life, Paddock went to great lengths to keep his thoughts private, and that extended to his final thinking about this mass murder,” the report stated. “Active shooters rarely have a singular motive or reason for engaging in a mass homicide.”
The newly released report marks the first time the FBI has released any documentation from its investigation of the 10-minute attack, which left 58 concertgoers dead and 800 injured.
In a list of 10 key findings, it paints a picture of a largely apathetic man, declining in physical and mental health as he aged, who may have seen the attack as a way to attain infamy.
It is unclear whether the FBI will release a more comprehensive report on the investigation. A spokeswoman with the agency’s Las Vegas office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Las Vegas police released a separate, 187-page investigative report in August with similar findings.
The Oct. 1, 2017, attack ended when Paddock, who was positioned inside a Mandalay Bay hotel suite across from the festival, shot himself with a revolver.
Police have said he fired more than 1,000 rounds that night, using about a dozen different rifles equipped with bump stocks, which replicate automatic fire.
Investigators found no suicide note, video, manifesto or other form of explanation regarding the attack. The agency also found no evidence that Paddock was motivated by any ideological or political beliefs.
Instead, they determined that Paddock wanted to die by his own hands, possibly seeing suicide as an act of control in a life that seemed to keep spiraling into decline as he grew older: His financial status fell, his level of functioning slowly diminished, and he grew increasingly distressed at his inability to remedy those issues, the report said.
The experts concluded that Paddock’s desire to die by suicide “was compounded by his desire to attain a certain degree of infamy” through a mass casualty attack.
In that aspect, the report noted, he may have been influenced by his father, a convicted bank robber who escaped federal prison in 1968 and landed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He was arrested nearly a decade later, largely absent from Paddock’s life, and died in 1998.
“Paddock’s father created a facade to mask his true criminal identity and hide his diagnosed psychopathic history, and in so doing ultimately achieved significant criminal notoriety,” according to the report.
Paddock also had no known grievance with Mandalay Bay, Route 91 or anyone he killed.
Rather, investigators believe he picked the resort because it was tactically “advantageous” and that he decided to initiate the attack during the festival because he knew the crowd below would be densely packed with “unsuspecting and vulnerable people.”
Throughout his own life, Paddock was known to exhibit minimal empathy, primarily viewing others “through a transactional lens of costs and benefits,” the report noted.
“Paddock’s decision to murder people while they were being entertained was consistent with his personality,” the report stated. “He had a history of exploiting others through manipulation and duplicity, sometimes resulting in a cruel deprivation of their expectations without warning.”
On the night of the attack, police found explosives in Paddock’s car, parked in the hotel’s valet lot. But experts believe he never intended to escape, pointing to the many cameras he set up to ensure he could kill himself at a time of his choosing.
If anything, experts believe he may have started his attack early, spotting on those cameras an unsuspecting Jesus Campos — the Mandalay Bay security guard who was checking on a different matter in the 32nd-floor hallway minutes before Paddock began firing on the festival crowd below.
After at least one volley of gunfire, Paddock fired into the Mandalay Bay hallway, injuring Campos in the left calf.
The report was compiled over the course of a year by a panel of experts convened by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. The experts came from fields including threat assessment, cyber behavioral analysis, child sex exploitation, psychology, psychiatry and law.
Findings from the panel were ready as early as November 2018, and according to the agency, they were initially shared with Las Vegas police. It is unclear why the report was not released to the public until Tuesday.
Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas office, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in December 2017 that Paddock’s motive was something “everybody wants to know.”
But, he added, “we may never know.”
The agency did not respond to a request to speak with Rouse on Tuesday.
Shawna Bartlett, a Route 91 survivor who lives in Missouri, told the Review-Journal on Tuesday that she was not interested in knowing why the attack was carried out.
“I can’t speak for others, but I can say that I think the general opinion is that nobody ever expected to get a motive,” she said, “and that even if we did, it wouldn’t change anything.”
Knowing why might make her even more angry, she said.
“What instead needs to be glorified is the love, the positivity and the good things that have come from this,” she said, her voice breaking. “That in itself is a stronger story than why he did what he did.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Support for survivors
Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling encourages survivors and victims’ relatives to reach out to the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center for support. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“For some people, there not being a motive could be difficult because you want to know why something happened,” she said. “We recognize news of similar incidents or news related to the shooting can have an effect on people.”
To reach the Resiliency Center, Nevada residents may call 702-455-2433, while those who live outside Nevada may call 1-833-299-2433.
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