by Ken Ritter Associated Press
LAS VEGAS — Documents made public Thursday recounted anew how police officers took cover next to patrol vehicles on the Las Vegas Strip while a gunman rained bullets from a high-rise hotel into an outdoor music festival during the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s modern history almost 15 months ago.
Also among statements from 18 of the hundreds of officers who responded to the shooting were accounts of police forming attack teams and working their way along hotel hallways in the Mandalay Bay resort before blasting with explosives through bullet-riddled doors of a 32nd-floor room to find shooter Stephen Paddock dead amid a cache of assault-style rifles.
One group advanced down the sides of a hallway where a hotel security guard had been wounded earlier, while another went downstairs to then come up an emergency exit stairwell close to Paddock’s door.
Absent was any new information about Paddock’s motive for the attack that killed 58 people and injured 869 late Oct. 1, 2017.
Officer Joseph Jones later told department investigators it still wasn’t clear when he arrived if the shooter was inside or outside. But he said he saw flashes at an upper-floor window before he and other officers started running toward the hotel.
“We heard the automatic rifle fire,” Jones said, adding in a transcribed statement that his officer body-worn camera was recording when he arrived to find concert-goers fleeing the Route 91 Harvest Festival grounds across the street from the hotel.
“Intermittently you could see some flashing,” Jones said, “but once we started to move … I couldn’t see it anymore.”
Authorities determined that Paddock, a 64-year-old former millionaire accountant, real estate investor and high-limit video poker player, died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head before police reached him.
Investigators determined that Paddock fired more than 1,000 shots in 11 minutes out the windows and down the interior hallway. They did not determine what motivated him to meticulously plan and execute the massacre.
Officer Aden Ocampo Gomez, a department spokesman, declined Thursday to comment.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo declared the police investigation ended in August, issuing a report that said hundreds of interviews and thousands of hours of investigative work found no motive, no conspiracy and no other shooters.
Weekly releases of police records to the media have continued under court order in a public records lawsuit by media organizations including The Associated Press. The material has included clips of nearly 1,200 officer body camera videos, many hours of 911 audio recordings and dozens of handwritten and transcribed witness accounts.
A final FBI report, expected to include a behavioral analysis of Paddock, is expected soon.