New details are emerging about the life of Stephen Paddock, the gunman who killed at least 58 people and wounded 500 more during a rampage Sunday night on the Las Vegas Strip.
Described by neighbors in several states where he owned homes, he was described as “surly” and “standoffish.” Paddock worked several government jobs between 1976 and 1985 – as a mailman, an IRS agent and a federal auditor.
The roots Paddock’s loner lifestyle may have been planted July 28, 1960, the Washington Post reports. On that day, when Paddock was 7, a neighbor from across the street took him swimming. The neighbor at the time told a local newspaper that she knew authorities were coming for his father, a bank robber, and she wanted to spare the boy the trauma of seeing his father hauled away by authorities.
From that point on, Paddock’s family was never the same.
His single mother tried to raise Paddock and his three brothers on her own while his father escaped from prison – twice. The father had little contact with the family.
As they grew older, Stephen – the oldest— kept in touch with his youngest brother, Eric, but drifted out of contact with his three other brothers.
Eric said Stephen stopped talking to his brother Bruce because Bruce used to beat him up when they were kids. And that Stephen stopped talking to Patrick, because they’re very different people.
Even with Eric, he never talked much. They created a lucrative real estate investment business together, but Stephen would only text Eric now and then.
“We didn’t talk much. We talked when there was something to talk about,” said Eric Paddock. “Steve had no help. Steve did not take help. He was a stand-alone guy.”
But speaking with reporters, Eric began to choke up thinking about his older brother. “Steve was like a dad surrogate. He took me camping. I liked my brother. He was a good guy,” he said.
Investigators are still searching for a motive – during a press conference, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo listed off several reasons for Paddock’s attack, including whether or not he was “radicalized.” At least one conspiracy theory media outlet has run with that story, reporting it as fact, but there is no evidence that Paddock was “radicalized” by anyone.
Authorities are trying to talk to anyone who ever had contact with Paddock, trying to paint a picture of the man.
Former California state senator Richard Alarcon, who had gotten his start as student body president of John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in 1971, posted a note to friends on Facebook on Tuesday saying he remembered playing basketball with Paddock at a neighborhood court.
Another classmate remembered Paddock showing up at a 20-year reunion and repeatedly angling to talk to her.
Nelson, in Las Vegas, fished through an old box of keepsakes and found a 10-year reunion program that contained a one-line description that each classmate had written. Paddock’s read: “Single, accountant, has traveled to Hollywood, lives in Sepulveda [Calif.]”
“We’re all just reeling, and here I have kind of a personal connection, being that we walked the same grounds, we were from the same area,” Nelson said.
After high school, Paddock attended Cal State Northridge. He was married and divorced twice. Both ex-wives — one in the L.A. area, the other in the Dallas suburbs — declined to talk to reporters.