Las Vegas shooting: The search for Stephen Paddock’s motive

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Vegas shooting: Suspect’s weapons, methods suggest planned attack
ABOVE: Law enforcement analyst says the methods and equipment used by Stephen Paddock in the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas show a large degree of pre-meditation and tactical consideration – Oct 2, 2017

More than a day after Stephen Paddock opened fire on 22,000 people attending a Las Vegas country music festival, authorities are left wondering what caused him to commit the biggest mass shooting in American history.

On Tuesday police sought clues to try to help explain why a 64-year-old retiree who enjoyed gambling but had no criminal record killed 59 people and injured hundreds of others, before killing himself.

Investigators are taking a harder look at the shooter’s girlfriend and what she might have known about the attack, with the sheriff naming her a “person of interest.”

Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, has been the Phillipines since September. Reuters reported Tuesday evening that she was on a plane to the U.S.

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Authorities had been speaking with Danley and “anticipate some information from her shortly,” Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.

Lombardo said he is “absolutely” confident authorities will find out what set off Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler and retired accountant who killed himself before police stormed his 32nd-floor room.

READ MORE: Las Vegas shooter’s brother ‘completely dumbfounded’ after attack

There was no immediate hint of why he had accumulated an arsenal of high-powered weaponry, including 42 guns. He was not known to have served in the military, to have suffered from a history of mental illness or to have registered any inkling of social disaffection, political discontent or radical views on social media.

The closest Paddock appeared to have ever come to a brush with the law was for a traffic infraction, authorities said.

Paddock transferred $100,000 to the Philippines in the days before the shooting, a U.S. official briefed by law enforcement but not authorized to speak publicly because of the continuing investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Investigators are still trying to trace that money and also looking into a least a dozen reports over the past several weeks that said Paddock gambled more than $10,000 per day, the official said.

“I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” Lombardo  said on Monday.

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WATCH: Terrorism or not? Defining the Las Vegas massacre

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Terrorism or not? Defining the Las Vegas massacre

He most likely planned the attack

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Authorities seem to agree on one thing — that is that Paddock seemed to plan the mass shooting, at least for a period of days.

Police said Paddock arrived at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip Thursday, three days before the shooting. He took more than 10 suitcases filled with guns into his suite, officials said.

READ MORE: Timeline of Las Vegas shooting

And authorities found two gun stocks that could have let him modify weapons to make them fully automatic, according to two U.S. officials.

“He knew what he wanted to do. He knew how he was going to do it, and it doesn’t seem like he had any kind of escape plan at all,” Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI hostage negotiator said.

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NBC News reported Tuesday that Paddock wired $100,000 over to the Philippines one week ago, the home country of his live-in girlfriend. But it’s unclear who and what the money was meant for.

Trump calls Paddock ‘sick, demented man’

“He was a sick man, a demented man,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters. “Lot of problems, I guess, and we’re looking into him very, very seriously, but we’re dealing with a very, very sick individual.”

But Trump refused to say whether he considered the attack an act of domestic terrorism.

WATCH: President Trump says Las Vegas shooter was a ‘sick man’

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President Trump says Las Vegas shooter was a ‘sick man’

Las Vegas Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo also refused to call it that.

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On Monday, when he asked if this was a terrorist attack, Lombardo said, “No, not at this point; we believe it is a local individual, he resides here locally. We don’t know what his belief system was at this time.”

Was it an act of terrorism?

The term terrorism is a highly debated term.

“The definition of terrorism is highly contested, both in academic discourse as well as politics,” Rhys Machold, assistant professor in political science at York University said.

“Different political actors would like to name certain people as terrorists and prevent other people from being named as terrorists. And that very much animates the term and the debate of terrorism all around the world,” he said.

READ MORE: How police decide who is a terrorist threat and who isn’t

Under the U.S. federal law, a violent act meets the definition of “domestic terrorism” if the actor was seeking:

  1. To intimidate or coerce a civilian population.
  2. To influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.
  3. To affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

The terrorism requires “political or social objectives.”

READ MORE: So what is ‘terrorism,’ anyway?

However, the state of Nevada’s criminal law is a bit different. The state’s law defines terrorism as “any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion, or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.”

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Although this definition seems to fit the mass shootings in Las Vegas, authorities are still not using the word.

WATCH: Terrorism expert offers insight on Las Vegas massacre

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Terrorism expert offers insight on Las Vegas Massacre

“We don’t know this guy’s motivations for violence yet,” Dr. Luke Howie, deputy director of Global Terrorism Research Centre said. “Terrorism is violence, motivated by politics, religion or ideology, designed to create fear beyond the group of murdered or targeted victims. Those who die are chosen to send a message to a larger group of people.”

“Until we know why those people at that concert in Vegas were chosen we are in the dark as to who was being targeted,” he said.

For now, Paddock is being described as a “shooter,” “disturbed” and a “lone wolf” as law enforcement officials try to find a motive that could explain why a retiree without any criminal or mental health background could launch such a deadly attack.

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— With a file from Global News reporter Maham Abedi and Reuters

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