At first glance, it seemed Stephen Paddock, 64, was set for a quiet life in a desert retirement community near his beloved casinos where he bought a new home in 2015.
From there it was only an hour’s drive to Las Vegas, where he would embark on the worst mass shooting in recent US history.
Public records point to an itinerant existence across the American West: a few years in coastal California, a few years in other parts of Nevada. Paddock had a hunting license in Texas, where he lived for at least a few years. He got his pilot license, and had at least one single-engine aircraft registered in his name.
In early 2015, he bought a modest two-story home in a new housing development for retirees on the dusty edge of Mesquite, a small desert town popular with golfers and gamblers that straddles the Nevada border with Arizona.
“It’s a nice, clean home and nothing out of the ordinary,” Quinn Averett, a Mesquite police department spokesman, told reporters on Monday. Some guns and ammunition were found inside, though nothing remarkable in a region where gun ownership is high.
An hour’s drive southwest is Las Vegas, where Paddock would check into a 32nd-floor room last Thursday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino with at least 10 rifles for a shooting spree that would kill least 58 people and hurt more than 500.
Eric Paddock, the shooter’s brother, said the family was “bewildered” as to what drove him to mass murder, saying in a telephone interview the family would release a brief statement through the sheriff’s office in Orlando, Florida, where some of the shooter’s relatives live.
He did mention the their father, the late Benjamin Paddock, had been a bank robber and was included in the FBI most wanted list in 1969.
He helped his brother move to escape Central Florida’s humidity to Nevada in order to be able to play more video poker two years ago, Eric Paddock told the Orlando Sentinel. The two were last in touch a few weeks ago, texting about power outages after Hurricane Irma hit Florida.
A former neighbor named Sharon Judy in Viera, Florida, told the newspaper that Stephen Paddock was a friendly man who had described himself as a professional gambler. He showed Judy a picture of him winning a $20,000 slot-machine jackpot, she said.
Paddock had no criminal record other than a traffic infraction, authorities said.
Before moving to Mesquite, Nevada, he lived in another town called Mesquite in Texas. He was listed as the manager of an apartment complex called Central Park. A woman who answered the telephone for the complex referred questions to another manager, who did not respond to messages.