Lone Wolves? Las Vegas nutcase differs from Manhattan crazy!
By Eric Noevere
First of two parts
Editor’s note: Thanks to local firearms expert Eric Noevere for his analysis of the Las Vegas tragedy. Next week, Noevere concludes with suggestions about what an informed, rational response to mass killings will require.
LAS VEGAS – Unlike the Manhattan killings perpetrated Oct. 31 by an apparent Muslim terrorist, the Las Vegas shooting Oct. 1 differs dramatically. It is a riddle inside an enigma — if there ever was one! Looks like a solo nutcase more than some crazed religious fanatic, but . . . ?
Clark County (Las Vegas) Sheriff Lombardo stated at an Oct. 4 news conference, “he had to have had home help at some point…Maybe he’s a super guy, maybe he’s super yahoo, but it would be hard for me to believe that.”
Why did the killer haul 23 guns up to his room? There is no way he could deploy all of these alone, did he plan on having help? Some of the guns jammed — he had some magazines that were larger than standard 30 round magazines and these often malfunction. He may have anticipated this by having other identical guns ready. He could have just picked up another rifle so he didn’t have to clear a jam. That could have been accomplished with a couple of back up rifles — you wouldn’t need 23!! That is a lot of work to set up that many guns. He also had about 50 pounds of Tannerite in his car. This is a legal low yield explosive used for making reactive rifle targets.
The killer was a strange dude, who made a lot of money presumably in real estate. He also spent a lot of time playing video poker in casinos — a good way to become poor quickly. He had two residences in Nevada, may have had others, but often spent weeks at a time in hotels with casinos. His father was a bank robber, the FBI described dad as a “pyschopath” who was on the lamb for years after breaking out of prison, got caught, did time and then became a con man.
His brother Eric and current girlfriend did not see anything to suggest he was planning mass murder over the last year. His brother Eric stated he was a loner. No history of past violent behavior.
Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the shooter stayed, has lots of cameras, but not in all hallways according to sources. Jesus Campos the hotel security guard wounded in the attack, stated during an interview on the Ellen Degeneres show that he went “to investigate an open door alarm” on a stairwell door on the 32nd floor. He found “a metal bracket holding the door in place.” The stairwell door was next to the killer’s room and Campos couldn’t open the door to get onto the 32nd floor. He got there through another stairwell and inspected the metal bracket from outside the stairwell.
As he was heading back to the hallway, the stairway door made a loud noise as it closed. Then all hell broke loose. A barrage of bullets erupted wounding Campos in the leg. The killer had planted a couple of cameras outside his room, either the cameras or the loud noise (or both) alerted the killer to Campos’ presence. (Campos believes it was the loud noise from the door.)
A hotel engineer, Stephen Schuck, had also started to approach having been summoned to deal with the door. Campos warned Schuck to take cover — he luckily wasn’t hit. Shuck then warned a hotel guest who started to emerge from her room to go back inside. How could someone go and tamper with a fire door without being caught on hotel surveillance video? Was is it the deceased shooter or did someone else do it?
According to revised timelines, Campos was shot less than a minute before the killer started shooting at the concert crowd below. Campos called in on his radio that there were shots fired about 10:05 pm — about the same time firing on the concert started. At 10:15 pm firing stopped. At 10:17 pm police (who were already in the hotel in a response to another issue) and armed hotel security arrived outside the killer’s door. At 11:20 pm SWAT arrived, blew the door, and made entry, finding the killer deceased from a likely self inflicted gun shot wound.
The first group of police and security stated there was no shooting when they arrived so presumably the killer was dead before 10:17 pm. The investigators are tight lipped about any camera videos that the killer deployed in the hallway, did he record in his suite as well? How sure are the investigators he acted alone? ISIS claimed responsibility but FBI says no credible evidence. It was recently revealed that the hard drive from a laptop found in the room had been removed. No motive. Hopefully they are looking at this tragedy from all angles, the FBI has missed the mark more than once.
Listening to a couple of the released Las Vegas videos, I heard either multiple rapid fire weapons being fired, or at times a full auto gun. The rate of fire did seem to transition from full auto rate to a slower rapid rate. Superimposed echoes of gunfire from a single shooter could explain this. Callers to the Michael Savage radio show, who identified themselves as former Marines, suggested they thought the gunfire sounded like the current 5.56mm Squad Automatic Weapon M249(SAW) deployed by our military (same caliber and can use a variety of magazines, including standard Mags for M4s and AR15s).
Examining the pictures that were released by various sources taken in the killer’s suite, I saw at least 4 AR-15 type rifles, some appeared to have had the magazine removed, some of these pictures may show the same gun in a different location. Three appear identical. There were also stacks of magazines. All the rifles appeared to have slide fire (‘bumpfire’) stocks installed. One had a tactical dot type optic with a larger than standard thirty round magazine.
Two or three rifles (may be looking at the same gun in two different photos) were set up with long range tactical scopes and bipods. This is a little weird since using the bipod would limit you to regular semi auto fire, and the scope is also only useful in slow mode. What puzzles me is why didn’t the killer legally get a real machine gun? He had a clean record. He passed many firearm background checks, and supposedly had plenty of discretionary income. Why didn’t he do the paper work with BATFE, spend about $10,000-$20,000 per gun and acquire real full auto guns made before 1986? There are about 176,000 older ‘full auto’ guns still out there legally owned – mostly by wealthy collectors. Reports hint that this guy started his planning a year ago. Usually the BATFE paperwork takes about six months. Why not get the real deal if you can?