Released documents detail panic, fear during rampage

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See what Las Vegas police found when they stormed the hotel room where Stephen Paddock unleashed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
USA TODAY

Newly released documents from the investigation into the nation’s deadliest shooting rampage detail the rants of gunman Stephen Paddock and the panic and chaos that swept through the Las Vegas Strip as scores of concertgoers were felled by an unrelenting hail of bullets.

Paddock, 64, fired from a 32-floor hotel room overlooking a crowd of more than 20,000 people on Oct. 1. He killed 58 and wounded hundreds more in a 10-minute barrage before killing himself as police moved in.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police made the documents public this week after the Associated Press and other media outlets sued for release of the information. No witness names were released.

One woman said she thought the gunfire was just firecrackers until she saw a man fall to the ground with open, “lifeless” eyes. Another told police she refused to leave her lifeless friend, whose lips turned blue, until a group of men lifted her up and guided her to the protection of a fence.

One woman who was wounded — and saw a nearby woman shot five times — said she decided to play dead.

“A good guy just grabbed me and said, ‘Love, you’re gonna die here if I leave you here,’” she told police.

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The documents included statements from people who said they previously heard Paddock slam the government.

One woman said she overheard a man she thought was Paddock talking with another man at a Las Vegas restaurant days before the massacre. She told police Paddock seemed angry about the 1990s armed standoffs that ended in tragedy at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge in Idaho.

“I just thought ‘strange guys,’ ” she said. “I wanted to leave.”

One man said he declined a request from Paddock to convert his semiautomatic weapons into automatic guns. He said Paddock claimed temporary communities set up after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were a prelude to “kickin’ down doors” and seizing guns from citizens.

“Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” the man said Paddock told him less than a month before the assault. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”

The documents were made public two weeks after the release of body camera video from the officers who stormed Paddock’s room at the Mandalay Bay casino hotel.

Police say Paddock acted alone but have not determined a definitive motive for the attack.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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