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Las Vegas gunman's family in Orlando: ‘Nothing' to explain what he did

Gunman's father once on FBI's most wanted list

ORLANDO, Fla. – "There is nothing," over and over Eric Paddock repeated Monday morning struggling to describe how his 64-year-old brother, Stephen Paddock, could be responsible for the mass shooting in Las Vegas where nearly 60 are dead and hundreds more injured.

Eric Paddock, of Orlando, found out about the shooting and his brother's role just after 1 a.m. EST.

NOTE: Watch the full interview in the video player at the top of this story

"All five of my phones in the house lit up at the same time," Paddock said. It was Las Vegas police contacting the family for information on Stephen. The family is cooperating with police, but Eric Paddock said his brother's life was an "open book" and he has no clue as to why this happened.

According to FBI records, Stephen Paddock is the son of Benjamin Paddock, a convicted bank robber who escaped federal prison in 1969. The elder Paddock was caught in 1978 and died in 1998.

A wanted poster that recently sold on eBay said Benjamin Paddock was “diagnosed as psychopathic, has carried firearms in commission of bank robberies. He reportedly has suicidal tendencies and should be considered armed and very dangerous.”

Officials said Stephen Paddock opened fire on country music concertgoers on the Las Vegas strip just after 10 p.m. He shot himself before officers entered his Mandalay Bay hotel room, according to Las Vegas police.

Inside his room, authorities found a cache of weapons, including 10 rifles, Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said.

Eric Paddock said he was equally shocked by the type of weapons found in the hotel room.

“Not an avid gun guy at all," he said of his brother. "The fact that he had these kind of weapons is ... where the hell did he get automatic weapons?"

"He has no military background or anything like that. He is a guy who lives in a house in Mesquite, who drove down and gambled in Las Vegas. He did stuff, ate burritos."

Eric helped Stephen move from his home in Viera, Fla. back to Mesquite, Nevada a few years ago, which is why he was shocked about the weapons. Eric Paddock said Stephen had a few handguns, maybe one long gun, but that they were kept in a safe.

The owner of a Utah gun store said Stephen Paddock visited the store several times this year and bought a shotgun after passing a federal gun background check.

Dixie GunWorx owner Chris Michel said Paddock said that he was new to the area and was visiting local gun shops. Paddock bought the shotgun in February and last visited the store in St. George, Utah, in the spring. It's a 40-minute drive from where Paddock lived in Mesquite, Nevada.

Michel said he chatted with Paddock to get to know him and make sure there were no signs that he should not be allowed to buy a gun.

"There were no red flags," Michael said. "I had no idea he would be capable of this."

The story was similar at a gun shop in Mesquite, Nevada, where Paddock bought firearms and never gave any indication that he might have been unstable. 

Guns & Guitars general manager Christopher Sullivan said in a statement Monday that Paddock showed no signs of being unfit to buy guns.

Store spokesman Shawn Vincent declined comment on how many guns Paddock bought and said those details could only be shared with authorities. Sullivan said all necessary background checks and procedures were followed under local, state and federal laws and that he’s cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Paddock lived in a house in a retirement community in the small city of Mesquite.

Eric Paddock said that to his knowledge his brother has no history of crime or mental illness.

"He doesn't even have parking tickets, probably," he said."There is not even anything I can say, how do you? I mean my brother did this. This was like, it’s like he shot us. If he had killed my kids I couldn't be more dumbfounded. I mean, it doesn't. There’s nothing."

Stephen Paddock's niece, Nicole Paddock, posted a statement to Facebook:

First off I want to express my deepest sympathies to everyone affected by this massacre, I am as shocked and appalled as anyone about this senseless act of violence.

It has been especially disheartening to find out that the perpetrator is a relative. Stephen Paddock was my uncle, but I did not know very much about him. Sometimes I would see him in Las Vegas when I was there visiting other family, but these encounters were casual and infrequent. It has been well over a year since I have had any contact with him. I cannot speak to what possibly motivates someone to do something like this nor what his specific motivations may have been. He never came across as religious or political.

My family and I are still in shock by this news and my heart goes out to all of those who lost or had loved ones injured in this tragedy. I am at a loss for words.

Authorities were also in contact with Stephen Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62, but said she was not involved in the shooting.

Eric Paddock said they were worried Stephen may have hurt her too when they first learned of the mass casualty shooting.

"She’s a nice lady, I’ve met her three or four times," Paddock said of his brother's girlfriend. "She’s got a Facebook page, She send cookies to my mom."

Mostly recently, Stephen Paddock spoke to his family in Orlando, including his 90-year-old mother, after Hurricane Irma. The family, like many in Central Florida, was without power for five days.

The last text he sent to his brother was “How’s mom?” “Did you get power?” That was it, Eric Paddock said. Stephen also sent a walker to help his mother, who is having trouble getting around, his brother said.

The family is working with police, but said they feel they have little to offer as an explanation for Stephen Paddock's actions.

"I hope someone finds out, because we’d like to know," Eric Paddock said.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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