Las Vegas Gunman Railed Against Government Before Shooting, Police Documents Show - WSJ

People who came into contact with Stephen Paddock in the weeks before he killed 58 people at a Las Vegas concert last October said he railed against the government, behaved oddly and expressed a willingness to die, according to documents released by the Las Vegas police this week.

One woman interviewed by police said she sat in the booth of a diner eating dinner a few days before the shooting and overheard a man in the next booth she subsequently recognized as Paddock. The woman said Paddock was discussing with another man deadly standoffs between federal agents and antigovernment activists at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and Waco, Texas, in 1993.

“They kept mentioning the 25th anniversary of Ruby Ridge,” the woman told police. “I didn’t hear them planning anything, but they were speaking of things that struck me as odd. At the time, I just thought ’strange guys’ and I wanted to leave.”

Law-enforcement officials say they are still unclear why the 64 year-old Paddock, a high-rolling, eccentric gambler and gun enthusiast, opened fire on the country-music concert in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But the 1,200 pages of documents, which consist of witness statements, shed some more light on his state of mind leading up to the shooting.

Las Vegas police declined to comment beyond the records, which include statements from people who were under fire at the festival as well as employees of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino across the street where police said Paddock opened fire from his 32nd-floor hotel suite.

The names of the witness in the documents were all redacted.

An inmate at the local Clark County Detention Center told investigators that three weeks before the shooting Paddock answered his online ad for the design to a device that converts semi-automatic AR-15s to automatic. When they met in a store parking lot, the man said Paddock said he would “give me $500 apiece” to make an unspecified number of the converters. After the man said he didn’t want to go to prison for that, he said Paddock went on an antigovernment rant.

“He kept carrying on about just antigovernment stuff,” said the man, who was booked into the jail shortly after the massacre on an unrelated charge. “He asked me if I remembered (Hurricane) Katrina and said, ‘That was just a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and confiscating guns,’” the man said.

Paddock went on to say, “Somebody has to wake up the American people and get them to arm themselves,” he told police. “And he said, ‘Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.’”

A British tourist told investigators he spoke for an hour the night before the shooting with a man he later recognized as Paddock. He had been sitting in a lounge area of the Luxor Hotel & Casino when the man sat down and began quoting stories from the Bible about people down on their luck. “He wasn’t quite there,” the tourist told police. “He said that he wanted to die, and I says, ‘No--no you don’t wanna die.’”

A housekeeper at the Mandalay Bay described an encounter she had with Paddock five days before the attack. According to her statement to police, the woman said Paddock wouldn’t stop staring at her as she cleaned his room.

“I can remember the room is there, the table is here and then he’s sitting like that,” the housekeeper said. “That’s why I don’t feel comfortable, because…he keep on staring at me.”

Paddock also was known for his strange behavior at the various casinos he frequented. His former host at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino told investigators that Paddock lost his temper there about three years ago “about something so minor I don’t even remember what it was. I think maybe it was like it took, like, 20 minutes for his baggage to come up to his room. And he was like screamin’ at me. That kinda struck me as weird.”

Write to Jim Carlton at