Mesquite, Nevada (CNN)–He seemed so ordinary, just another house-hunting retiree, when he strolled with his girlfriend into the sales office of the Sun City development in late 2014. The agents had just what Stephen Craig Paddock was looking for — a 2,000-square-foot, two-bedroom stucco rambler on a cul-de-sac.
Other houses might offer bigger floor plans, but the one on Babbling Brook Court had two big selling points: a commanding hilltop view and, perhaps most importantly, privacy. Neighbors lived to the left and right, but none behind the home. Paddock quickly said he’d take it.
He stood about 6-foot-4 but came across as “low key and relaxed, a good guy,” one of the real estate agents recalled, speaking on condition of anonymity. Balding and paunchy, Paddock was the opposite of flashy.
On his application, he said his income came from “gambling.” He gambled about $1 million a year, he told one of the agents.And he paid cash for the house, the agents said — $369,022.
Soon, Paddock set about making alterations to his pumpkin-colored ranch. And his deep desire for privacy had the opposite effect: It drew the attention of neighbors.
Paddock erected a solid mesh privacy screen that blocked his neighbors’ view of his home. About 20 of them signed a petition, and the homeowner’s association ordered him to take it down, neighbors said. The HOA refused to comment.
Neighbor Scott Smith said he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to obscure a gorgeous view of the town below. “Why would you not have that lot for the view? Obviously, he wanted privacy.”
Another neighbor said Paddock told her, “I don’t want to be looking at people, and I don’t want people looking at me.”
With the exception of that neighborhood squabble, Paddock appeared to be good at keeping a low profile. So good, in fact, he managed to assemble a sizable arsenal apparently without notice. And he carted at least 10 suitcases and 23 guns to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last week without raising an eyebrow.
There, he executed a meticulous plan. The man who sought privacy and kept a low profile became the worst mass shooter in modern US history.
As the police investigation enters another day, details are emerging about how Paddock — a man with no criminal record or military experience — carried out such an awful and bizarre mission. Investigators have yet to answer the most troubling question: Why?
Police and federal authorities say they found about four dozen firearms in three locations — 23 in Paddock’s hotel room, seven at a home in Reno and 19 at his house on the cul-de-sac in Mesquite. They also found ammonium nitrate, which is used in bombmaking, in his car and in Mesquite.
The woman he shared those homes with, Marilou Danley, was in the Philippines at the time of the massacre but returned to Los Angeles and met Wednesday with the FBI.
Location, location, location
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