October 5th, 2017

Paddock may have targeted still another music venue

Yesterday I advanced a theory about the grandiose and psychopathic motives of mass murderer Stephen Paddock. As evidence for my contention that he didn’t much care what open-air crowd he fired into and from which high-rise hotel, I cited the fact that it was reported that Paddock had tried to book a similar room at a different hotel for a different outdoor concert, and failed to get the room he wanted.

Now we’ve been informed that he apparently made a similar effort back in August, in Chicago:

Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock booked rooms in a Chicago hotel facing the Lollapalooza music festival in August, a law enforcement official told USA TODAY on Thursday.

Paddock, 64, booked one room at the Blackstone Hotel starting Aug. 1, two days before the festival opened. He booked a second room Aug. 3. The Blackstone confirmed in a statement that rooms were booked in Paddock’s name during Lollapalooza but that he did not stay there on those dates.

Both rooms had a checkout date of Aug. 6, corresponding with the final day of the music festival that drew tens of thousands of concertgoers to Grant Park alongside Lake Michigan. It was unclear if Paddock was in Chicago during the festival, according to the law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

If true, this is further evidence that my theory might be true. I’m not saying it is true, however, and at any moment I would totally abandon it in favor of another if evidence emerges that contradicts what I’m saying and points to an entirely different scenario.

When I wrote that I believed Paddock’s underlying motive was a psychopathic desire to kill as many people as possible and make a name for himself, I likened him to the Columbine killers, who originally had planned a more apocalyptic conflagration but whose execution of that grander and more fiery (literally, involving propane bombs in the cafeteria that failed to detonate but could easily have killed 600 people) plan left something to be desired. Now we hear that Paddock may have intended something similar, because he apparently shot aviation fuel tanks nearby:

The bullets left two holes in one of two circular white tanks. One of the bullets penetrated the tank, but did not cause a fire or explosion near the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, another knowledgeable source said late Wednesday.

The tanks are roughly 1,100 feet from the concert site, where Paddock killed 58 people and wounded almost 500. Several airplane hangars belonging to prominent corporations are also near the tanks.

To change the subject slightly, I notice that quite a few people are saying that they don’t buy Paddock’s girlfriend’s claim of ignorance of both his motives and his methods. My response is that those people underestimate the ability of psychopaths or con artists or other intelligent criminals to cover their tracks and fool those around them, both in personal terms and in practical terms. For example, Paddock could have easily kept his firearms somewhere outside the home in storage, or locked them in cases in some attic or basement if they were on the premises, and his girlfriend wouldn’t necessarily have pried or cared or suspected a thing if he never expressed any unusual hostility towards anyone. She was living with an alpha-male high roller, and I doubt she noticed much to make her suspicious—because Paddock (an intelligent and crafty man) planned it that way.

I’ve noticed time and again—most notably in the case of Madoff—that it’s commonplace to believe that family members or significant others must of course have known about that person’s criminal activity or intent. However, I think that’s hubris and ignorance. “Hubris” because I think those people are really saying “I would have known; I wouldn’t have been so stupid,” and that this is coupled with a lack of any true understanding of the highly-developed and tremonedouly deceptive play-acting skills possessed by the psychopath and/or con man.

Which brings us to another issue: did Paddock act alone? The simple answer is that we don’t know. And I certainly don’t know. Maybe he really was an ISIS operative. Maybe he was in league with some other destructive groups. Or maybe he just had help (for example, technical help in procuring and modifying his weapons) from someone who was ignorant of Paddock’s actual plans.

We don’t know.

But if I had to guess, I would say if Paddock got any help at all it was of the latter variety—technical help from someone who may not have been aware of his ultimate aims. At this point I see Paddock not only as a psychopath, but as a proud and narcissistic one who walked alone.

[NOTE: For more on psychopaths see this and this.]

27 Responses to “Paddock may have targeted still another music venue”

  1. Surellin Says:

    For now let’s cut the girlfriend some slack. I myself have a cabinet of guns in the basement, and my wife just never goes down there. The basement sets off her asthma. She knows I have guns, and she shoots them occasionally, but I really wonder if she would be shocked to find out the number.

  2. Ann Says:

    Marilou Danley probably also knew how to stay in her place vis-à-vis Paddock:

    …employees of a Starbucks [in Las Vegas] that Paddock and Danley frequented told the LA Times that they often observed him berating her.

    Esperanza Mendoza, the shop’s supervisor, said the abuse came when Danley would ask to use his casino card to make a purchase. The cards, a common form of currency on the Vegas strip, allow gamblers to spend credits earned on electronic gaming machines.

    Mendoza said: “He would glare down at her and say – with a mean attitude – ‘You don’t need my casino card for this. I’m paying for your drink, just like I’m paying for you.’ Then she would softly say, ‘OK,’ and step back behind him. He was so rude to her in front of us.”

  3. parker Says:

    I have 3 bolt action rifles, a 22LR pump action rifle, a SKS semiauto I bought simply because Slick Willy wanted to ban imports, a S&W 357, a Colt Gov 380, a 12 guage pump, and a 22 single shot pellet gun. Guess what? I can kill with any of them depending upon distance. I also have a razor sharp katana, several hammers, numerous knives,a crowbar, and a lead pipe, plus rocks that I can use to kill anyone I wish to kill. Plus I know how to use my body to kill.

    Point: you can have liberty or safety. Safety is the totalitarian state where you have the liberty to salute the dear leader or be tortured and starved in the gulag.

    That is the real binary choice.

  4. Griffin Says:

    If this continues to play out as it has so far then this might go down as the most bizarre criminal act in American history. The vast, vast majority of major criminal, evil acts had some sort of reason (often delusional of course) or involved very obvious mental illness but this is looking like a truly meaningless act.

    It may almost defy analysis.

  5. zat Says:

    neo: I wrote that I believed Paddock’s underlying motive was a psychopathic desire to kill as many people as possible and make a name for himself

    I just want to add that your first assumption (as many people as possible) isn’t necessarily connected with the second (to make a name). The most obvious difference with Columbine is the age. It seems much more likely for young men to fall for the idea of becoming a killer legend.

    This could be a case of extended suicide. A person wants to die but doesn’t want to die alone. Actually the person would prefer to see the end of the world, the end of everything. Would Paddock have started a thermonuclear world war if he could? Nobody would be alive to remember his name. But he would feel mighty and important in the moment of death, in contrast to a person who just commits suicide and feels weak and desperate (as I imagine). I liken Paddock to the German pilot who flew his Germanwings plane deliberately into a mountain in March 2015.
    There are now new hints that Paddock planned to escape, that would contradict this theory, but we don’t know much about the new evidence.
    And wouldn’t he also have shot his girlfriend, to end everything? Killing her would be very different from killing small dots from his window view. He wanted to start a kind of apokalypse. The German pilot also didn’t kill his girlfriend.

  6. AMartel Says:

    I fully agree with the “wait and see” sentiment, especially with regard to Paddock’s girlfriend. I hear terrible things being implied about Paddock’s girlfriend, who I should probably refer to by her name Marilou Danley and not as “Paddock’s girlfriend.” She is who she is first, and “Paddock’s girlfriend” at least second.
    We must accept that we do not know and may never fully know and not engage in a witch hunt. Once you start to form an opinion it is harder to give it up. Too many people WANT to assume some involvement by Ms. Danley. They will be so disappointed if it turns out to be a chemical imbalance or a tumor or a psychotic break.
    Wait and see!

  7. Yankee Says:

    When looking over other recent mass shootings, many of these rampage killers have a grudge against the world, and want to make other people pay. Many of them plan ahead, trying to kill as many people as they can in their attacks. And then many of them commit suicide when they either run out of targets, or are cornered by the police.

    One exception to this pattern of suicide is Anders Breivik, who surrendered when confronted, after his July 2011 killing spree in Norway. He was politically motivated, however, selecting targets to punish his enemies, and wanting to push his own agenda.

    Compare also the phenomenon of “running amok”, first observed and described in parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  8. TommyJay Says:

    Over the years, the jet fuel has been designed to be amazingly inert or hard to ignite. Paddock obviously spent much time and money planning this crime. Some of it, such as the wireless webcam in the room service cart was diabolically clever. Though even that didn’t buy him much.

    But other aspects seem to be not well thought out. Did he really think he needed 23 firearms? Did he think he could escape? Did he think he could blow up those tanks, like in a Hollywood movie? Did he have a plan for the tannerite explosive or ammonium nitrate? This is not a Ted Kaczynski level of planning. Much of this strikes me as compulsive behavior.

  9. groundhog Says:

    Anyone could easily display a few guns, as a hunter, and gun enthusiast, and also have a large chest with hunting clothes and gear covering many more guns.

    Most people with no interest and a natural trepidation to firearms wouldn’t bother to look through it.

    That’s just one possibility.

  10. Richard Aubrey Says:

    A family might not know a member is on the road do some horrid crime but still know something’s off about him.
    In retrospect, it might make sense.
    For purposes of investigation, it ought to be followed up, whatever it is.
    That there is never anything that could be considered “off” about a horrid perp is odd. Most of us think there’s something “off” about a fair proportion of those whom we know. It may not seem as if it’s leading to something terrible, and possibly not even in retrospect.

  11. Griffin Says:

    I agree that a family may not know someone is planning something like this especially in cases like this where it appears this guy had no children, wasn’t particularly close with siblings and apparently had a girlfriend who would be gone for large periods of time.

    There have been serial killers that have operated while married with children the whole time. The BTK killer in Wichita and Robert Yates in Spokane are two examples. But as mentioned above I have to think that those were not happy normal homes no matter what they may say. It seems to me that nobody capable of such evil acts can live well adjusted lives. Impossible to compartmentalize those differences.

  12. Duane Hershberger Says:

    People who believe Paddock could not have cleverly hidden his guns for a long time have never lived with an alcoholic.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Griffin:

    Well, I didn’t say he necessarily lived a “happy normal life.” Depends what you call “normal,” too. I doubt he was “normal.” In the very first piece I wrote on this subject, the day I learned of the attack, I wrote that he kept a very low profile but that I believed he was a psychopath, and that his motive was not political but the desire to make a big splash by killing (much like the motivation of the Columbine killers). But there’s a reason that the first big expert on psychopathy, Cleckley, entitled his book about psychopathy The Mask of Sanity. Psychopaths often can give a good imitation of sanity—at least, relative sanity—but it’s hollow and brittle.

    Psychopaths can fool people. Some are very very charming and no one suspects. Reports are that—at least in recent years—Paddock came across as unfriendly and quiet. But that’s about it.

    People can be somewhat odd and eccentric without any reason to suspect that they are going to turn into mass murderers.

  14. Griffin Says:

    Neo,

    Perhaps ‘outwardly normal’ would be a better way to describe these individuals.

    And of course 99.999999% of the ‘somewhat odd and eccentric’ never commit murder and probably a very high percentage never do anything remotely criminal which makes situations like this unavoidable to some degree.

  15. The Other Chuck Says:

    Perhaps ‘outwardly normal’ would be a better way to describe these individuals.

    Or as Hannah Arendt said of Eichman:

    “The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explodes our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial.”

    …the enigma of the normality of evil, the banality of evil.

    I’m not inclined to grant this monster, Steven Paddock, the excuse of mental illness. He was an evil bastard.

  16. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Duane. Since Paddock lived alone, I believe, hiding his guns wouldn’t have been a problem. Just keep them out of sight from the front window in case the UPS guy might see them.
    From what we know, none of his preparations for the attack differed from any normal person’s actions except for the purchase of perhaps three dozen guns in the last year. That’s substantial cash and, as has been said, you can only shoot one at a time.
    It’s not up to me to tell people how many guns they can buy, or have.
    But as a practical matter, you might divide firearms into five or six groups and have one example of each. Three dozen would normally seem like excess.
    So, getting a room at a top-end hotel in Vegas. Lots of people do that. Specify a room. I have no idea how many people do that, but enough that the hotel has a mechanism for satisfying it.
    Carrying luggage or tipping the bellhop.
    Up until he started shooting, nothing he did that we know of should have attracted attention. Except the purchase of so many guns, which ordinarily we might suggest needs an intervention. Unless we knew he was so rich it wasn’t even chump change. Then it’s merely odd and some of us may wish we could do even a fraction of that.
    In fact, the oddest thing is the lack of….things. He didn’t cast a shadow in terms of people he knew, how he knew people, paper or digital trail, friends, family.

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    Richard Aubrey:

    I don’t think Paddock lived alone. He lived with his girlfriend, at least in the last 2 years or so, and I think maybe for about the last 5 years (even though she was technically married to someone else; she got divorced in 2015 so she may have been separated when she and Paddock took up together).

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    The Other Chuck:

    I have always rather detested that “banality of evil” thing. Evil is not the least bit banal. The mask that evildoers wear can seem quite banal, though.

  19. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    I found this quite illuminating (and a bit disturbing):

    https://m.facebook.com/notes/john-ringo/a-theory-on-las-vegas/10155111388257055/

    Basically, let’s not discount the possibility of drug interactions.

    In re the guns: unfortunately, I don’t own any guns. I lost them all in a tragic canoeing accident.

  20. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Daniel. “rolled my canoe.” Hey, guy. That’s my story.

  21. Richard Aubrey Says:

    neo. If the woman lived with him off and on, knowing about the guns is highly likely. They take up room and the best that can be said is there is a place, a locked cabinet, a closet into which she must not go, look, or think about. Nor dust.
    So, if she didn’t know about the guns, it’s for an obvious reason. She could be said to know about SOMETHING WEIRD AND FORBIDDEN.
    If she says no to both guns and weird, there is a problem.
    Alcoholics know how to hide, up to a point, their inebriated state.
    But having guns in the house doesn’t make you trip over the furniture. Vodka doesn’t have a smell. Hoppe’s nitro solvent does.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Richard Aubrey:

    I completely disagree with the idea that if she lived with him she would have known about the guns.

    I refer you to what I wrote already on the subject in the post, and I will repeat for emphasis: the guns didn’t have to be stored in the house, or in a place that would rouse curiosity. Some people don’t go through people’s possessions or get suspicious or even think there’s anything “weird” if someone has areas where they store things that the significant other hasn’t explored. Some people just respect other people’s possessions, and unless there were OTHER read flags for her she wouldn’t go around snooping.

    I know that was true of me. My husband and I lived in a house with so many nooks and crannies, and such a large and filled-up attic that I almost never went into, that he could have kept just about anything there and I wouldn’t have known a thing about it.

    I think you have a failure of imagination here.

  23. blert Says:

    RA…

    He had a huge SAFE in the garage.

    She would’ve been told — and believed — that the massive safe contained cash — which it almost certainly DID.

    Putting it over on her — would’ve been a snap.

    By ALL accounts he had her cowed — trained.

    &&&

    With every passing hour MORE connections lead off to the fanatics of ISIS.

    The FBI look like total goofs.

    For the FBI it’s ALL about optics — shielding Muslims.

    The authorities — everywhere — have consistently denied Islamist connections — especially ISIS — until it’s impossible to deny.

    The reverse is not true.

    ISIS has RARELY been known to falsely claim connections to jihadis.

    And ISIS is REALLY on about the Shooter being their boy.

  24. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Daniel in Brookline Says:
    October 6th, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    The Doctor Classes have often told me that I don’t know anything about their field.

    Yet my views about medical drug use is pretty similar.

    I wrote about similar deleterious effects for marijuana/weed, and anti ADHD drugs like Rit.

    Personally, I haven’t taken Western medications for decades. It’s just not worth the risk, given the alternatives. And besides, having obtained my level of capability, it would be risky to go out in public while drugged. It’s like people driving sportscars at 4x the speed limit on the highway, while drugged on meth.

  25. Richard Aubrey Says:

    blert. Correct. That’s what I mean when I said you know guns or weird.
    I suppose he might have found an off-site place he considered safe for his guns. He’d know, if anybody would, where that kind of place might be. My imagination doesn’t extend that far. He’s a gun nut.
    I’ve known some.
    If he’s a gun nut, then he cleaned them from time to time and that’s unmistakable if it’s done at home because of the odor of the various solvents. So, if the guns were stored off site, that’s a place where he’d be seen and somebody is going to say something unless he’s tied up with the underworld.
    It is possible that the woman was browbeaten not to get all the evidence of guns at home.
    Point is, guns have to be someplace and that someplace will be evident to somebody.

  26. The Other Chuck Says:

    Neo:

    You may be right in detesting the banality of evil phrase that Hannah Arendt made famous. If banal means commonplace or normal to the point of boredom, it isn’t something we should want ascribed to evil. Unfortunately, evil is becoming commonplace, at least the terrorist variety.

  27. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Westerners, or perhaps it is just humans in general, prefer the Enlightened Words of their betters, than coming up with their own individual peasant wisdom.

    I reject this crutch and over reliance on Gatekeepers and Totalitarian wannabes talking about other totalitarian wannabes.

    It is not evil that is banal, it is the humans with all their masks who pretend to be loving members of humanity, meanwhile they are handmaidens of chaos, entropy, and Lucifer. The duality exists because light and darkness exists, ying and yang opposes each other yet also can work together. Human life is not opposed to evil, in fact it is most likely necessary for evil to work, although not for evil to exist if entities are independent or immortal.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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