LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – The girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people and himself in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said she had no idea he was “planning violence against anyone.”
Marilou Danley, who returned late on Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines and is regarded by investigators as a “person of interest,” said through a lawyer that the carnage Stephen Paddock unleashed while she was abroad caught her completely unaware.
“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,” Danley, 62, said in a written statement read to reporters by her attorney in Los Angeles, where she was being questioned.
“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man. I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him,” she said. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”
Her lawyer, Matt Lombard, said Danley was “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Danley, an Australian citizen of Filipino heritage, said she flew back to the United States voluntarily “because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them.”
Fifty-eight people died and more than 500 were injured when Paddock, 64, strafed an outdoor concert with gunfire on Sunday night from his 32nd-floor suite of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
He took his own life before police stormed his room, where they found as many as 23 guns, bringing the total death toll to 59.
Twelve of his rifles were fitted with so-called bump stocks, officials said, allowing the guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons.
U.S. President Donald Trump visited Las Vegas on Wednesday, marking the first time since taking office that he has had to confront a major mass shooting.
FOLLOWING THE MONEY
Investigators, at a loss to determine a motive for Sunday’s bloodshed, have focused on Danley, who had shared Paddock’s retirement community condo in Mesquite, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas, before leaving the United States for the Philippines in mid-September.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents met her plane at Los Angeles International Airport and took her away for questioning, two U.S. officials briefed on the case told Reuters.
The officials said that as of midday Wednesday, there was no indication she was aware of Paddock’s plans.
Investigators questioned her about Paddock’s weapons purchases, a $100,000 wire transfer to a Philippine bank that appeared to be intended for her, and whether she saw any changes in his behavior before she left the United States.
“Assuming she had no role in his actions, the most important thing is any light she can shed on Paddock’s motive,” said one official, who spoke about the investigation on condition of anonymity.
Danley said in her statement that Paddock had bought her an airline ticket to visit her family and wired her money to purchase property there, leading her to worry that he might be planning to break up with her.
Paddock’s brother Eric told reporters the $100,000 transfer was evidence that “Steve took care of the people he loved,” and that he likely wanted to protect Danley by sending her overseas before the attack.
She arrived in Manila on Sept. 15, flew to Hong Kong on Sept. 22, returned to Manila on Sept. 25 and was there until she flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday night, according to a Philippine immigration official.
Discerning Paddock’s motive has proven especially baffling given the absence of the usual indicators that have emerged in other mass shootings. He had no criminal record, no known history of mental illness and no outward signs of social disaffection, political discontent or extremist ideology, police said.
A U.S. official familiar with the investigation said there was no evidence that Paddock had contacts with any extremist groups, or that he might have sought out militant groups online that could have incited him to carry out a mass shooting.
Trump, touring a hospital in Las Vegas, told reporters Paddock was “very demented.”
Meeting with officers who rushed toward the shooter, Trump asked the head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department if investigators were any closer to establishing a motive.
“We’ve had a couple good leads and we’re working our way through it,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told the president.
(To view a graphic on the Las Vegas attack, click tmsnrt.rs/2yRHHDI)
Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Lisa Girion in Las Vegas, Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Allen in New York, Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Manuel Mogato in Manila and John Walcott and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Steve Gorman; Editing by Frances Kerry, Jonathan Oatis, Toni Reinhold