- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s been two weeks since gunman Stephen Paddock powered up his piles of firearms in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, took aim at the crowds of country concert-goers his room overlooked, and began firing at the masses, killing 58 and injuring hundreds.

And what we know is this: Little.

There’s nothing clear on motive — except ISIS has claimed the massacre as its own, the gunman, as an Islam convert. Nothing clear on Paddock — except he was a gambler, age 64, with a dad who was a criminal. Nothing clear on Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley — except she thought her boyfriend to be a “kind, caring, quiet” man.

It’s a mystery, all right. An uncomfortably long mystery. People are starting to talk.

In this day and age of constant, pervasive surveillance, cellphone video cameras, hotel security, database collection and storage and sharing, and more, it really has to be asked: Why don’t we know more?

Things that should have been settled are now coming to light as, well, not settled after all.

Now, there is a six-minute discrepancy about when Paddock shot and injured a hotel worker named Jesus Campos and when he began firing into the crowd below his 32nd floor window.

Investigators initially said Campos, a hotel security guard, had some sort of encounter with Paddock after he heard strange “drilling in the room” and responded to the scene, Deadline reported.

Or, as CNN reported it: “Initially, police said Campos had approached Paddock’s room as the shooting was underway, diverting the gunman’s attention. Paddock then shot Campos through the door and quit firing at concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival from his hotel room.”

This wasn’t an anonymously sourced claim.

Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a press conference a week or so ago that Campos — who responded to the floor to check on an alarm from an open door — distracted Paddock to the point the gunman obviously became worried and started firing at the security guard instead of the crowd.

But fast-forward a few days and police have changed that timeline.

Now, police say Paddock shot Campos at 9:59 p.m. on the night of incident, October 1, and then, six minutes later, began firing into the crowd.

Six minutes is a long time.

The timeline matters for obvious reasons, one of which goes like this, as CBS noted: “A maintenance worker [named Stephen Schuck] said Wednesday [October 11] he told hotel dispatchers to call police and report a gunman had opened fire with a rifle inside the Mandalay Bay … hotel before the shooter began firing from his high-rise suite into a crowd … The revised timeline has renewed questions about whether better communication might have allowed police to respond more quickly and take out the gunman before he committed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

Schuck said he was on the 32nd floor to check out a complaint of a jammed fire door. He reportedly heard gunshots and then saw Campos, injured with a gunshot to the leg, peering from an alcove.

Campos reportedly told Schuck to take cover.

“As soon as I started to go to a door to my left, the rounds started coming down the hallway,” Schuck said, CBS reported. “I could feel them pass right behind my head. It was kind of relentless so I called over the radio what was going on. As soon as the shooting stopped, we made our way down the hallway and took cover again and then the shooting started again.”

MGM Resorts International disputes the new timeline — and no doubt, that’s because this new one paints hotel officials as somewhat slow on the draw to respond to what must have been raging gunfire. MGM claimsPaddock shot into the crowd 40 seconds after injuring Campos. Meanwhile, background of Schuck’s radio call to hotel top brass is filled with gunfire, according to CBS.

Which narrative is right?

The lack of answers, the lack of a concrete timeline, the lack of a clear picture of how the incident unfolded — there are all concerning gaps of facts.

It’s not as if the hotel security cameras didn’t capture much of the events as they unfolded. It’s not as if investigators haven’t had two weeks to sift through the video. It’s not as if concertgoers hadn’t provided police with video footage from their own cellphones — enough so anyway that investigators could quickly concludePaddock was the only shooter, even while not knowing his motive.

We should have a clearer picture at this point.

Adding to the mystery is the sudden disappearance of Campos. The shot security guard was scheduled to give five television interviews Thursday evening, but just as cameras were about to roll, Campos bolted.

“Where in the world is Jesus Campos?” one Fox News story wondered on Friday.

Oh great, another mystery to solve. Yes, yes, we know police are doing a great job, a terrific job, a bang-up job, yada, yada. And yes, yes, we know we have to be patient because investigators don’t want to release information they haven’t cleared as factual — though even that seems negligible, given the recent timeline change.

But two weeks?

Two weeks and few answers?

At this rate, Americans should learn the motive of Paddock — the real elephant in the room — sometime after 2055 or so.


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