Law & the Courts

The Corner

The Las Vegas Shooting Is Still Very, Very Strange

Before I begin, let me re-emphasize what I stated in a post the afternoon after the shooting. Do not read this post as implying any sort of conspiracy theory. In fact, even now — more than two weeks after the terrible event — we don’t even know enough facts to concoct a conspiracy. We do know, however, that the story keeps getting more bizarre. 

Remember the heroic security guard who allegedly helped stop the shooting? He appears to have, well, vanished. Here’s the Los Angeles Times:

The story seemed straightforward: The unarmed security guard approached Stephen Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, distracting the gunman and potentially saving lives.

With a gunshot wound to his leg, he helped point officers to the gunman’s location and stayed behind to evacuate hotel guests.

He was hailed a hero by many, even as the story changed. Twice.

Now, the man that many want to honor and who can help bring clarity about the timeline of the shooting has vanished from the public eye, less than two weeks since the Oct. 1 massacre, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 others injured.

Just before Campos was scheduled to appear at numerous media interviews, he allegedly went to a “Quick Care” health care clinic and hasn’t been seen since. There was an armed security guard outside his house, and now that guard is reportedly gone. No one seems to be suspecting foul play, and as the president of his union notes, “Somebody knows where he is.” But this elusiveness is obviously not quite normal.

Campos’s disappearance is but one odd element in the story. Another, of course, is the shifting timeline of the shooting. Last week, the sheriff’s office released a chronology indicating that Campos was shot six minutes before the gunman opened fire at the crowd, thus raising a host of questions about the timeliness of the police response. Within days, however, the timeline shifted again — this time indicating that Campos was shot around the same time the shooter began his attack:

Friday, however, Lombardo said that he now believes the security guard received his wounds close to the time the shooter started firing. Lombardo said Friday that the initial time he gave of 9:59 was when the security guard attempted to breach a door nearby the shooter’s . . . This comes after Mandalay Bay officials on Thursday disputed the timeline and whether six minutes actually passed between the first gunfire in the hallway and the start of the concert rampage. They said Paddock may have wounded the security guard within 40 seconds of firing into the crowd.

Finally, we still don’t know the shooter’s motive, and this is after police (and the media) have interviewed family members and friends and after the police have “searched Paddock’s homes, scoured his computers, assessed his finances and explored his travel history.” Finding a motive does more than merely help us make sense of a devastating night, it helps us shape policy and culture to prevent future attacks.

The fact that a man could plan one of the worst mass murders in American history and do so without leaving the typical trail of clues and intentions is deeply unsettling. Time and again when mass shooters strike, they leave a trail of bread crumbs — whether they’re deteriorating mentally or radicalizing (or both), the warning signs are often obvious and warnings have often been given. Not this time. 

To be sure, the police know more than the public, and perhaps they know or strongly suspect the motive and haven’t yet disclosed it, but to experience this level of ignorance so many days after a mass shooting is highly unusual. There’s no cause for conspiracy theories, but there’s ample cause for curiosity and confusion. A strange shooting remains very, very strange. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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