EXCLUSIVE: The missing gun: Stephen Paddock bought a high-powered Ruger rifle just hours before arriving in Las Vegas, but the $600 weapon was NOT found among his 23-weapon arsenal of death
- Stephen Paddock bought a Ruger American .308 bolt-action rifle with an 18-inch barrel for $600 from Guns & Guitars just hours before arriving in Las Vegas
- The rifle was not part of the 23-weapon arsenal found in his sniper’s nest in the Mandalay Bay Hotel
- Gunshop worker Skipper Speece revealed Paddock was ‘calm and normal’ when he bought the weapon at around 3pm on September 28
- Skipper said Paddock was a regular visitor to the store and he had served him four times in total
- Marilou Danley, who police named a person of interest in the case, also came in to the shop once, but Skipper said nothing seemed amiss
Published: 15:00 EDT, 4 October 2017 | Updated: 19:19 EDT, 4 October 2017
Stephen Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured at least 527 others after shooting at concertgoers on Sunday. On Thursday it emerged he had bought a gun before arriving in Las Vegas
Mass killer Stephen Paddock bought a high-powered hunting rifle just hours before he arrived in Las Vegas on his mission of death, DailyMail.com can reveal.
But bizarrely the rifle wasn’t one of the 23 weapon haul found by police in his sniper’s nest hotel suite.
Paddock paid $600 for a Ruger American .308 bolt-action rifle with an 18-inch barrel and four round capacity from Guns & Guitars in his hometown of Mesquite.
He then calmly drove 80 miles to check in at the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Vegas Strip from where he rained bullets down on the Route 91 Harvest music festival killing 59 people and injuring a further 537.
A gunsmith at the store revealed Paddock was ‘calm and normal’ when he bought the weapon at around 3pm on September 28.
The worker, who goes by the name Skipper Speece, said it took around 20 minutes for the store to carry out vetting procedures and Paddock passed with flying colors – raising no alarm bells.
He then left the shop with the weapon but it’s unclear what happened next.
Did he decide against taking the rifle to Vegas and left it at home or did he take it and leave it in his car?
‘Skipper’ an employee of Guns and Guitars in Mesquite, NV stands guard outside the store as the owner has been on the receiving end of death threats since the Las Vegas massacre
Paddock paid $600 for a Ruger American .308 bolt-action rifle with an 18-inch barrel and four round capacity from Guns & Guitars in his hometown of Mesquite – but this gun was not found among his hotel arsenal
Pictured is an exterior shot of Guns & Guitars. Guns & Guitars general manager Christopher Sullivan said in a statement Monday that 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock showed no signs of being unfit to buy guns
Gunsmith Skipper Speece (right) is Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy’s (left) former personal bodyguard and was involved with the infamous 2014 Bunkerville ranch standoff
Either way the gun was not included as part of Paddock’s arsenal of death.
Skipper said Paddock was a regular visitor to the store and he had served him four times in total.
The gunsmith was bodyguard to Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, and was involved in the infamous 2014 Bunkerville ranch standoff.
The standoff involved an armed confrontation between supporters of Bundy and law enforcement following a 21-year legal dispute over grazing rights.
He says Paddock bought just one of the guns that was found in his hotel suite from Guns & Guitars – a Sig Sauer 716.
The Swiss/German made rifle fires large-caliber 7.62mm rounds, and is a highly accurate weapon from the AR10 range of guns. These weapons usually sell for around $3,500.
But a week before the attack he dropped into the store just two miles from his home in a retirement community and ‘admired’ the Ruger rifle he would later also buy.
Skipper said: ‘He came in a week earlier and says, “Hey, do you remember me, I’m Steve Paddock,” and I said, “I’ve got some money for you,” because we sold one of his guns.
‘So I go to the safe and pull out the envelope and he’s looking around and says “Hey, what’s that rifle there,” and points out the Ruger.’
More details about Vegas Shooter’s plans
A photo leaked Tuesday showed Paddock’s body after he committed suicide in the hotel room he’d fired on civilians from. There also appears to be a letter on the table (in red circle), although police haven’t announced finding a suicide note
Paddock fired on 22,000 people at a nearby music festival with 23 guns. Magazines can be seen stacked on the right. His Verdi neighbors are concerned that his safe held these guns
Paddock bought just one of the guns that was found in his hotel suite from Guns & Guitars – a Sig Sauer 716
‘He says he’s not going to buy it, ‘I’ll think about it’, so I give him the money and he goes.’
‘Then a week later, on the 28th, he came in again and bought it for $600. He never said what he was going to use it for.
‘He was a normal guy, a typical customer, there was never any red flags, nothing to raise concern. If he had acted unusually or suspiciously in the store I wouldn’t have sold him the rifle.
The worker said Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who police named a person of interest in the case, also came in to the shop once, but nothing seemed amiss
‘He didn’t say anything about why he wanted to buy the rifle. We actually had one of his rifles on consignment hanging on the wall.
‘He would buy something and bring it back. He brought a handgun to us before. We would buy back from him.
‘He passed all the vetting procedures, he has no criminal record, no one can understand why this happened.’
Skipper, who said Paddock had bought three other guns from the shop in the past, none of which were used in the shooting, says Mesquite is awash with gun enthusiasts like Paddock.
‘It’s a small town but there’s a lot of retired cops, former military guys, ex-government spooks. They’re all carrying.’
The worker said he was drinking in a bar on Sunday night when he watched the horror unfold on TV.
At 2am he received a call from a friend in the FBI who wanted to run a name by him.
When he heard Stephen Paddock, Skipper was shocked.
‘As soon as he said the name I knew who he was, because I had only served him a few days earlier,’ he recalled.
A horrifying video has emerged, showing dozens of lifeless bodies scattering the Las Vegas field where Stephen Paddock killed 58 on Sunday
GRAPHIC CONTENT: Victims seen lying on ground during Vegas massacre
‘I know he liked country music so then I’m thinking he must have been after someone he knows, that was my first thought.
‘I couldn’t believe it and after I get the call from a friend at the FBI I rushed straight to the store to check our records.
‘The FBI wanted to know any addresses listed and the serial numbers of any weapons he had purchased.
‘Anyway I start opening up the ATF books and they give me four or five serial numbers and I find they aren’t from us, so he didn’t buy them all from us.
‘So they say, “I’m gonna read you some serial numbers” and there’s one match and it was a Sig rifle. That was the only one that he bought from us that he used.
‘I called my boss Chris Sullivan and he came to the store as well, we were both really shocked that one of our customers was involved.’
PADDOCK’S ARSENAL OF DEATH
While the exact extent of Paddock’s cache is not yet clear, we know it included:
1) Four DDM4 rifles, the LA Times reports. Manufactured by Daniel Defense, the rifle features a muzzle flash suppressor, making it harder to tell where the weapon is being fired from. It also has a freefloat rail allowing for a variety of attachments including scopes and grips to enhance stability. The rifle costs $1,900 if bought new
2) Three FN-15 rifles. Made by FN America, they also feature a muzzle flash suppressor and ‘H buffer system’, which reduces recoil and increases accuracy. FN-15 refers to a series of rifles, rather than a specific weapon, which range from smaller carbines to replicas of the military-issue M16. It is not known exactly which version was owned by Paddock. They range in price from $1,000 to $2,000, if bought new
3) At least one AK-47. A Russian-designed assault rifle, it was used by the country’s military from 1945 and is still used by armies and rebel groups around the world. Known for its simplicity and reliability, it fires 7.62x39mm rounds which makes it less accurate but more devastating than other semi-automatic rifles. It can retail for as little as $600
4) At least one Colt AR-15. This rifle is known as the most popular in America, with an estimated 8million in homes around the country. It is also gaining a dubious reputation as the weapon of choice for mass shooters, from movie theater killer James Holmes to San Bernardino terrorist Omar Mateen
5) Two ‘bump stocks’. While not weapons in themselves, these stocks modify semi-automatic weapons allowing for something close to fully automatic fire. They fit over the stock of a semi-auto rifle, and feature a sliding pistol grip and a trigger cover. Rather than pulling the trigger with their finger, the user pushes the gun away from themselves with their other hand. This depresses the trigger, firing a round; the recoil pushes the gun back, but if the user continues to push the gun away from themselves, they will bump repeatedly on the trigger, firing multiple rounds quickly. This allows the user to fire up to 800 rounds per minute while skirting around regulations prohibiting fully-automatic weapons
Skipper said it was only later they learned that the Ruger rifle – which had rail slots for a scope – Paddock had bought wasn’t in the hotel room, but one of the guns they had sold him months earlier was.
‘The guy was just a regular gun enthusiast, there was nothing special about him,’ Skipper said.
‘He’s not religious, he never talked about religion, he never talked about politics.’
The worker said Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who police named a person of interest in the case, also came in to the shop once.
‘The only time we saw Marilou, Stephen was in the store looking around, talking to Chris and I guess she was in the car and she opens the door and says, “Are you done?”
‘And he says, “Yeah, I’ll just be a second,” that was the only time we saw her. He was totally pleasant to her, just said “I’ll be a second, no problem.”‘
Skipper said Paddock would have had no problem getting the 23 guns inside his minivan and smuggling them up to the 32nd floor room where he was staying.
Paddock left the shop after buying the mystery weapon but it’s unclear whether he left the rifle at home (pictured) or in his car
‘He was a smart guy. He’s not going to be caught going into the hotel with the weapons,’ Skipper said.
‘The Vegas casinos have firearms safes so if you are traveling and have a handgun, they’ll tell you, “We’ll lock it in the safe,” because they don’t want guns in the lobby.
But they’re not going to put you through a metal detector.’
Guns and Guitars staff have been inundated with death threats by phone and email, and Sullivan has reported them to the police.
‘We’re taking screen shots and forwarding emails to the FBI and to Las Vegas Metro,’ said Skipper.
The store opened its doors on Wednesday for the first time since the tragedy and brought in extra security to man the entrance.
As a temporary precaution, it also introduced a new policy banning loaded firearms from being brought inside.
Stephen Paddock lived in a tidy Nevada retirement community
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