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Vegas shooter leaves note but police still puzzled

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Vegas shooter leaves note but police still puzzled
Doves are released for each victim of the Route 91 Harvest music festival mass shooting at City Hall plaza in Las Vegas, Nevada on Oct. 7. -- REUTERS

WASHINGTON — A note discovered in the hotel room of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock featured hand-written calculations on where he needed to aim to increase his accuracy and number of kills, US network CBS reported Saturday.

The piece of paper was found by police officers who stormed Paddock’s room after he launched his attack from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel Sunday night — killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500.

In an interview set to air on Sunday, Officer David Newton of the Las Vegas Police Department’s K-9 unit, told CBS’ 60 Minutes he noticed Paddock’s note “on the nightstand near his shooting platform.”

“I could see on it he had written the distance, the elevation he was on, the drop of what his bullet was going to be for the crowd. So he had had that written down and figured out so he would know where to shoot to hit his targets from there,” he said.

Mr. Newton added that forcing entry into the room with an explosive before finding Paddock’s body and an arsenal of weapons was like something “out of a movie.”

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It was “very eerie,” he said.

Paddock’s hotel suite gave him an ideal perch from which to carry out his attack on a crowd of more than 20,000 people attending a country music concert across the street, some 400 yards (365 meters) away.

The note has not shed any light on the gunman’s motives, which authorities are yet to uncover nearly a week after the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history.

“We still do not have a clear motive or reason why,” Undersheriff Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told reporters Friday, adding that law enforcement was continuing to search for answers with “great tenacity.”

Mr. McMahill said investigators had uncovered “no nexus” between Islamic State and Paddock, even though the militant group had repeatedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

PENCE OFFERS SOLACE
US Vice-President Mike Pence visited Las Vegas on Saturday stressing unity and offering solace as police appealed to the public for help in uncovering a wealthy retiree’s motive for massacring 58 people at an outdoor concert this week.

“We are united in our grief, in our support for those who have suffered and united in our resolve to end such evil in our time,” Mr. Pence said, joining Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other local leaders at a City Hall commemoration for victims of the shooting.

Participants trod seven miles (11 km) along four separate paths to the event amid tight security. President Donald J. Trump paid a visit to Las Vegas earlier in the week.

Las Vegas’ Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus was the only speaker who touched on the subject of gun violence and politics, saying, “Let us also pray for those who have power that they will have the wisdom, the courage, and the resolve to find ways to end the gun violence that plagues our nation.”

FBI APPEALS TO PUBLIC
In an unusual bid to cast a wider net for tips, the FBI and police have arranged with communications company Clear Channel to post billboards around Las Vegas urging citizens to come forward with any information that might help investigators.

The billboards will bear the slogan, “If you know something, say something,” and carry a toll-free number to an FBI hotline, said Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office.

Unlike so many other perpetrators of deadly mass shootings before him, Paddock left behind no suicide note, no manifesto, no recordings and no messages on social media pointing to his intent, according to police.

Mr. McMahill said investigators remained certain Paddock acted alone in the shooting. But police have said they suspect he had help before the killings, based on the large number of guns, ammunition and explosives found in the hotel suite, his home, his car and a second home searched in Reno.

Authorities have said that 12 of the weapons recovered from Paddock’s hotel suite were equipped with so-called bump-stock devices that enable semi-automatic rifles to be operated as if they were fully automatic machine-guns.

Paddock’s ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute over the course of his 10-minute shooting spree was a major factor in the high casualty count, police said.

The bloodshed might have lasted longer, with greater loss of life, but for a hotel security officer who was sent to check an open-door alarm on the 32nd floor, and discovered the gunman’s whereabouts after the shooting started, Mr. McMahill said.

The security officer, Jesus Campos, was struck in the leg as the gunman strafed the hallway with gunfire from behind his door, apparently having detected Mr. Campos via surveillance cameras Paddock set up outside his hotel suite.

Mr. Campos, though wounded, alerted the hotel’s dispatch, “which was absolutely critical to us knowing the location as well as advising the responding officers as they arrived on that 32nd floor,” Mr. McMahill said. “He’s an absolute hero.”

In a new disclosure, authorities said two bullets Paddock fired struck a large jet fuel storage tank at the edge of the city’s main airport, about a block from the concert grounds, indicating an apparent attempt by the gunman to create even greater havoc.

There was no explosion or fire from the two rounds, one of which penetrated the tank, as jet fuel in storage is almost impossible to ignite with gunshots, airport officials said on Friday. — AFP and Reuters

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