Vegas shooter booked hotel near popular festival in August

US Senator Dianne Feinstein, with senators Bernie Sanders (left) and Richard Blumenthal, speaking on gun control legislation at a press conference in the US Capitol in Washington on Wednesday. She unveiled a Bill that bans bump stocks, devices that a
US Senator Dianne Feinstein, with senators Bernie Sanders (left) and Richard Blumenthal, speaking on gun control legislation at a press conference in the US Capitol in Washington on Wednesday. She unveiled a Bill that bans bump stocks, devices that allow guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons and which can be purchased online for US$200 (S$273).PHOTO: EPA-EFE

But Paddock did not turn up at Chicago hotel overlooking Lollapalooza fest, says website

LAS VEGAS • The gunman who carried out the worst mass shooting in recent US history had booked a Chicago hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival in August, the website TMZ has reported.

Stephen Paddock had booked two rooms at the Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago, overlooking an expansive park where the popular music festival took place over four days in August, TMZ reported yesterday.

While the website said Paddock never showed up for his booking, the report suggested a scenario that would have been similar to the Las Vegas Strip concert on Sunday night. Paddock rained bullets down on concertgoers from a nearby hotel tower, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.

"We are aware of the media reports and have been in communication with our federal partners," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement.

The hotel management company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hundreds of thousands attended the August music festival in Chicago's Grant Park, including Ms Malia Obama, the former president's daughter. The Blackstone is a historic luxury hotel where heads of state, including former president Jimmy Carter, and celebrities, such as Nat King Cole and Rudolph Valentino, have stayed.

In Las Vegas, nearly 500 people were also injured when Paddock, 64, strafed the outdoor concert with gunfire from his 32nd-floor suite of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

He took his own life before police stormed his room, bringing the total death toll to 59.

Police recovered nearly 50 firearms from three locations they searched, nearly half of them from the hotel suite. Twelve of the rifles there were fitted with so-called bump stocks, officials said, allowing the guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons.

The discovery led Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday to unveil a Bill that bans bump stocks, devices that can be purchased online for US$200 (S$273).

Echoing the sentiment, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said on a radio talk show yesterday that US lawmakers need to examine bump stock accessories that turn some guns into rapid-fire weapons.

Paddock's girlfriend, Ms Marilou Danley, said she had no idea he was "planning violence against anyone".

"He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen," Ms Danley, 62, said in a written statement read to reporters by her attorney in Los Angeles, where the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) questioned her on Wednesday.

An FBI official in Las Vegas, meanwhile, said no one has been taken into custody.

But Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters he found it hard to believe that the arsenal of weapons, ammunition and explosives recovered by police in their investigation could have been assembled by Paddock completely on his own. "You have to make an assumption that he had some help at some point," he said at a news briefing.

The attack was the obvious outcome of meticulous planning, he said. "What we know is that Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood," the sheriff added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Vegas shooter booked hotel near popular festival in August'. Print Edition | Subscribe