We may never know exactly why Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival last Sunday (Oct. 1), killing 59 people in the largest mass shooting in modern American history. But as investigators continue to dig into the 64 year-old millionaire real estate investor’s movements and purchases in the months, days and hours leading up to his insane rampage, a more detailed picture has emerged about the meticulous planning that went into Paddock’s unthinkable actions.
This is what we know so far about the night of the tragedy and the events leading up to it, according to a timeline from ABC News and a variety of other news sources.
Thursday, Sept. 28
Paddock checks into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino three days before the shooting, with the Associated Press reporting that he requested a high-level suite overlooking the 15-acre site of the Route 91 festival. A source said he couldn’t get the room he originally requested, but then moved to the 32nd-floor suite he opened fire from on Saturday night (Sept. 30).
Saturday, Sept. 30
The shooter moves to the room on the 32nd floor and transports a massive cache of 23 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition to his room. Police say he also set up at least three cameras to monitor the hallway outside. In one of the frequent press updates this week, Las Vegas Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said hotel employees are believed to have entered the room several times over the weekend and found nothing suspicious. Lombardo also said that Paddock had 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car in the hotel parking lot, indicating he may have intended to escape after the shooting.
Sunday, Oct. 1
After using a hammer to break out two windows in his room, the shooter sets up a sniper’s nest from which he begins firing down on the crowd of 22,000 at the country festival from a quarter mile away during singer Jason Aldean’s set. The bullets rain down at high speed, helped by after-market, legal accessories called bump-stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more like automatic weapons that can spray hundreds of bullets a minute. The shots are caught on a closed-circuit TV from inside the venue.
Concertgoers initially report thinking that the rapid popping sounds are fireworks associated with the show, but soon realize that they are coming from a firearm, and begin taking cover and fleeing the festival grounds.
According to the Business Insider, officers start to exchange radio messages about the shooting within three minutes, with one exchange featuring a voice saying, “We got shots fired! It sounded like an automatic firearm!”
The first two officers arrive on the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay and report over the radio that the gunfire is coming from directly above them, according to a timeline provided by the Las Vegas Police Department.
The final shots are fired from the suspect, as evidenced by “a body worn camera.”
One of the first social media posts on the shooting hits Twitter. “I’m pretty sure a terrorist attack just happened next to me im at mandalay bay.”
i’m pretty sure a terrorist attack just happened next to me im at mandalay bay
— ? (@GLOKMIN) October 2, 2017
The first two officers arrive on the 32nd floor.
An unarmed hotel security officer tells the LVMPD that he’s been shot and gives them the exact location of the suspect’s room.
Taxi drivers report receiving the first active shooter message from police telling them to avoid the area around the Mandalay Bay. According to Reuters, it says, “Drivers avoid LV Blvd and Tropicana. Active shooting from Mandalay Bay. Possible 3 shooters.”
Eight more officers arrive on the 32nd floor and start moving down the hall, clearing every room and looking for any injured patrons. According to the LVMPD, they move in this meticulous manner because they are no longer hearing gunshots, and the situation does not appear to be an active shooting incident.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that University Medical Center of Southern Nevada trauma surgeon Dr. Jay Coates recieves a call to report to the hospital. “They were coming in so fast. We were taking care of bodies. We were just trying to keep people from dying,” he tells Associated Press. “Every bed was full.” At the same time, Reuters reports that police start herding people inside Mandalay Bay to get them out of the line of fire.
LVMPD send out first tweet about shooting, telling people to avoid the area around the Mandalay Bay.
We’re investigating reports of an active shooter near/around Mandalay Bay Casino. Asking everyone to please avoid the area. #LVMPDnews
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
Newsweek reports that officers ask for permission to enter Paddock’s room sooner but are told to wait for SWAT teams. At a press conference LVMPD Undersheriff Kevin McMahill defends the decision to wait by explaining that Paddock was “contained” and had stopped firing.
Eight officers arrive in the stairwell on the opposite end of the hallway nearest to the suspect’s room.
ABC reports that first responders radio that they are at the end of the hallway on the 32nd floor but are proceeding cautiously to avoid fire from other first responders. “We are going to be peeking out into the hallway. Those officers down the hallway are going to need to acknowledge so we don’t have a crossfire,” one says.
More than an hour after the shooting ended, the first breach is set off to blow open the door of suite 135 and officers enter the suspect’s room. “Breach, breach, breach!” an officer is heard saying. They observe a suspect down on the ground and notice a second door that is not accessible.
The second breach is set off, allowing officers to access the second room. Officers quickly realize there is no one else in the rooms, and announce over the radio that the suspect is down. Officials report that Paddock took his own life, but at press time it has not yet been revealed when he did so.
Two hours after the first shots were fired LVMPD tweet confirmation that “one suspect is down.”
Confirming that one suspect is down. This is an active investigation. Again, please do not head down to the Strip at this time.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
LVMPD tweet that the incident is over and that they don’t believe there was more than one shooter.
At this time we do not believe there are any more shooters. More information to come shortly from @Sheriff_LVMPD.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
Aldean posts a message on Instagram: “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate,” he writes.
Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate