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Investigators Working To Reconstruct Life, Movements Of Las Vegas Shooter


I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Las Vegas, where we are broadcasting today from the heart of the Strip. We are 22 floors up. Spread down below me, I'm looking down on the famous fountain of the Bellagio Casino. That fountain was turned off for two days out of respect for the people killed when a shooter opened fire a few blocks from here on Sunday. The fountain is now back on, as Vegas struggles to return to something resembling normalcy and as investigators work to reconstruct the life and movements of that shooter.

Here with me now is NPR's Eric Westervelt. He has been tracking the investigation. Hey, Eric.


KELLY: So the latest news tonight is a statement from the lawyer of the shooter's girlfriend. Remind us who she is and what we learned.

WESTERVELT: That's right. Marilou Danley is a former casino hostess. She's considered a key witness, a person of interest - not necessarily someone they think is criminally involved but a person of interest. She was interviewed by federal agents, the FBI in Los Angeles today.

She said through her attorney that she loved the shooter, was hoping for a quiet life together with Stephen Paddock. She said in her words, I knew Stephen as a kind, caring, quiet man. And she said she knew nothing of the attack. She said she's devastated by the deaths and the injuries. And here's her attorney, Matthew Lombard, reading a statement on her behalf outside FBI headquarters in LA this afternoon.


MATTHEW LOMBARD: He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of, that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.

KELLY: Now, Eric, in her statement that we're hearing there through the voice of her lawyer, did she address the money question? There are these reports that the shooter had sent her money.

WESTERVELT: Yeah. The attorney confirmed that she was sent money. Paddock bought her a ticket to the Philippines to visit her family and later on wired her money so, she says, she could buy a home for herself and her family. She said she was grateful for the money but worried that both the ticket home abruptly and then the money for a home that, in her words, she was breaking - he was breaking up with me and added, quoting here, "it never occurred to me in, you know, in any way he was planning violence against anyone." And she has pledged to cooperate with authorities, according to the FBI.

KELLY: All right, so lots still to learn about what the motive here may have been. What about the physical investigation at the crime scene here in Las Vegas - any new clues coming to light?

WESTERVELT: Well, we're still no closer really to knowing about the why, but we're learning more about, you know, how this gunman carefully planned this shooting. He had cameras inside and outside of his hotel room, an arsenal of weapons. At least a dozen of them were modified so he could fire off more rounds faster. Police have also released some body camera video and audio of the attack. But more important to them I think in the investigation will be the plethora of audio and video from hotel security. And they've captured things at his homes and his room that may give more clues.

KELLY: And - but you know, we mentioned the Bellagio fountain is back on and spurting beneath us as we speak. The casinos here are all open. I mean, on the surface, it starts to look like things are coming back to normal. But as you've been out reporting, talking to people, do they say that that's the case?

WESTERVELT: On the surface, it does look like that. But I mean, I think everyone's struggling with the horror of this, especially those who live locally. And they will be for a long time. I mean, we - last night, we talked to some people out at a vigil, one of several held around the city. They're still stunned, sort of overwhelmed by the magnitude of this. Here's a local resident named Grace Ballard.

GRACE BALLARD: It is just hard to digest. We just - we don't know (laughter). We're numb I think. We're numb. And it's - I don't know. Somebody needs to do something. We just don't know how.

KELLY: One of many voices here in Las Vegas. And we've been hearing from NPR's Eric Westervelt. Thanks a lot.

WESTERVELT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Westervelt is a San Francisco-based correspondent for NPR's National Desk. He has reported on major events for the network from wars and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa to historic wildfires and terrorist attacks in the U.S.