On Thursday, September 28, Stephen Paddock checked in to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas strip. He came with at least ten pieces of luggage, stuffed with 23 firearms.
On Sunday evening, October 1, the third and final day of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival got underway across the street from Paddock’s two-room suite. Thousands of people were in attendance. It’s a big annual country-music event.
Paddock, high above the concert venue, on the 32d floor of the Mandalay, busted out two windows and fired hundreds of rounds into the crowd. The shooting began at 10:08, and continued for at least 10 minutes, killing at least 59 people and wounding hundreds more.
Police, using explosives, breached the hotel suite at 11:20. The perpetrator, Stephen Paddock, was dead by then of a self-inflicted wound.
Investigators have nothing definitive as to Paddock’s motive. He was a retiree living in Mesquite, a Nevada town about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, on the Arizona state line. One fact of puzzling significance: days before the massacre he had wired $100,000 to an account in the Philippines.
Right Wing View
In the absence any official story, various unofficial stories have popped up. Everyone seeks to put their own frame around the horror of it.
A twitter denizen calling himself “Dailey Media” posted a photo of a room service receipt. Apparently a meal for two guests was brought to a room at the hotel. The photo itself doesn’t make clear which room, but “Dailey Media” surely wants his followers to believe it was the sniper’s nest/suite. DM asks dramatically, “who was the second guest…?”
That is one of the “frames” one can put around this story, turning it into a conspiracy and looking for the others involved.
The possibility of a conspiracy is of course also bound up with the question of a motive. As Bill Mitchell of the YourVoice America podcast, tweeted, “Mass killers of strangers do so for one of two reasons, a cause or notoriety. See no evidence he sought notoriety, so what was his cause?’”
There are also, as is usually the case after high-profile killings, “false flag” theories – that is, views to the effect that the massacre didn’t really happen, that the wounded and the grieving relatives of the deceased on television are “crisis actors,” etc. The idea of these fringe theories is that the government (or in a contemporary variant, the “deep state”) is staging phony crises to justify anything from gun control to the institution of martial law.
Left Wing View
Jimmy Kimmel, the late night talk show host who framed the final stages of this summer’s long debate on Obamacare repeal and/or replacement, has also helped frame center-left responses to the Las Vegas massacre.
He told his studio audience and viewers that the killings should motivate gun control, but probably won’t. “Some of us will get motivated … bills will be written, they’ll be watered down, they’ll fail, the NRA will smother it all with money.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinks likewise: “Our grief isn’t enough,” she said, “We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.” That statement immediately drew flak. It does seem to involve an odd use of the word “politics” to mean, “bad politics” – which should be put aside so that the other stuff, good politics, can prevail.
On twitter, Tommy Campbell writes, “Stephen Paddock was a terrorist. His mass killing was made easy by the lack of gun control that morons consider a ‘freedom.’” Campbell is an actor, director, and HuffPo blogger.
We give the last word, in this brief survey, to Alex Shephard in The New Republic. He wrote, “There is nothing pre-ordained about what happened in Las Vegas, or in Orlando, or Blacksburg or Sandy Hook….They happened in America, a country where gun massacres are disturbingly common and where the government has done shockingly little to curb them.”