Girlfriend of Las Vegas shooter back in US, FBI to question her

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Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday. — AFP

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend returned to the United States and was met by FBI agents eager to hear whatever she might know about the motive behind the worst mass shooting in US history which left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded.

Although the FBI wants to talk to her, Marilou Danley, 62, is not in custody — she is classified as a “person of interest” to investigators — and is free to go wherever she wants, US media reported after her arrival on Tuesday evening in Los Angeles.

She was in the Philippines when Paddock opened fire with high-power rifles from a 32nd floor hotel room Sunday night at a sea of concertgoers below on the Las Vegas strip.

Authorities are investigating reports that while she was in the Philippines, Paddock wired her $100,000.

Danley is an Australian citizen who moved to the United States 20 years ago to work on the casino strip, the Australian government confirmed on Tuesday.

As America mourned, President Donald Trump prepared to visit the desert city on Wednesday. He has branded Paddock a “demented man.”

Beyond Trump’s assessment, authorities were at a loss as to how a 64-year-old gambler and retired accountant had hauled a vast arsenal of weapons to the hotel and launched his assault.

Authorities say the shooting appeared to be carefully planned: Paddock set up one camera in the peephole of his hotel room door and two in the hallway.

“I anticipate he was looking for anybody coming to take him into custody,” said Sheriff Joe Lombardo

Meanwhile, victims began to be identified in the media, each new story stirring emotions as America once again grappled with calls for reforms to its permissive firearm control laws.

Trump was not ready to suggest answers.

“What happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle,” he said. “The police department has done such an incredible job, and we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”

US officials have reacted cautiously to a claim by Daesh (the so-called Islamic State) that the shooter had carried out Sunday night’s massacre on its behalf.

Authorities said Paddock, who had no criminal record, smashed windows in his hotel room shortly after 10 p.m. on Sunday and rained fire on a crowd of some 22,000 attending a country music concert below.

In footage of the massacre, the sustained rattle of gunfire is heard as people scream and bolt for cover with little idea of where the shots were coming from.

Lombardo said Paddock fired through the door of his hotel room and hit a security guard in the leg.

But when a SWAT team stormed the room where Paddock had been staying since Sept. 28, they found he had killed himself.

Authorities have seized 47 firearms from three locations, they said late Tuesday.

So far, investigators have found nothing to explain the actions of the gunman, but were continuing to hunt and trace every possible clue about a gunman they described as a “psychopath.”

“For this individual to take it upon himself to create this chaos and harm is unspeakable,” Lombardo told journalists on Tuesday, saying the shooter’s degree of preparation made it clear the attack was extensively premeditated. — AFP


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