Something went 'incredibly wrong' with Las Vegas gunman, brother says

The last time Eric Paddock heard from his brother, Stephen Paddock had texted to find out how their 90-year-old mother was doing.

It was mid-September and Hurricane Irma had cut power in the Orlando, Florida, neighborhood where she lived. Stephen Paddock, who lived in Nevada, followed up with a call to their mother. Later, he sent her a walker to help her get around, Eric Paddock said.

About two weeks after the text, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock would be dead of a self-inflicted gunshot after police say he opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas.

He was 'just a guy'

The news doesn't square with Eric Paddock's image of his older brother, he told reporters Monday -- a poker-playing accountant and real estate investor with no apparent political or religious affiliation, "as far as I know," he hastened to add.

 

To his brother, Stephen was "just a guy," an "army of one" with no known children despite a string of relationships. Someone you might see nursing a drink alone at a bar. Someone who went on cruises and played $100-a-hand video poker. Someone who sent boxes of cookies to his mother.

"There's absolutely no way I could conceive that my brother would shoot a bunch of people that he didn't know," Eric Paddock said outside his home, shaking his head as he fumbled for words.

"Something just incredibly wrong happened to my brother."

'We're up all night because we gamble'

Eric Paddock said he knew his brother had firearms. His children had gone skeet shooting with their uncle before, but Eric did not know Stephen to be a hunter.

Eric helped his brother drive across the country in 2016 to a new home in Mesquite, Nevada, a retiree community about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Along the way, the brothers ate sushi and drank late into the evening, Eric Paddock recalled. But he did not recall his brother bringing a machine gun along with him.

However, he acknowledged the limits of his knowledge, living thousands of miles from a brother he only spoke to occasionally.

Stephen Paddock lived in Mesquite with his girlfriend, 62-year-old Marilou Danley. She was out of the country during the shooting, but returned Tuesday and was questioned by law enforcement.

He might have kept quiet about the guns, but he wasn't shy about the gambling.

When he bought a house in Mesquite, he wrote on his application that his income came from "gambling." He also told a real estate agent that he gambled about $1 million a year, an agent speaking on condition of anonymity said.

He sought privacy and kept a low profile. Some of his neighbors rarely saw him, but they knew he was a gambler.

Paddock said he was a high roller and real estate speculator from Las Vegas. "We're up all night because we gamble," Don Judy, one of Paddock's old neighbors in Florida, remembered him saying.

A search of Stephen Paddock's home in Mesquite turned up at least 19 additional firearms, explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Monday night. Several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a material used to make explosives, were found in Paddock's car.

That came as a surprise to one of his former neighbors. "If there was any impression, I would say, guy had no idea what a gun was," said Judy, who lived next door to Stephen Paddock from 2013-2015 in a retirement community in Melbourne, Florida.

Paddock never stayed at the house for very long, Judy said. Sometimes he came with his girlfriend, sometimes without.