Ex-convict’s letters to shooter foretold Las Vegas massacre
Apr 7, 2023, 2:39 PM
(AP Photo/John Locher,File)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Letters addressing the gunman who in October 2017 unleashed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas, apparently written by an ex-convict who lived in Texas, foretold the carnage to come, according to documents obtained Friday.
“My friend it sound like you are going to kill or murder someone or some people,” said a handwritten letter to Stephen Paddock dated June 1, 2017, and signed Jim Nixon. Addressed “Dear Steve,” it said, “Please don’t go on any shooting rampage like some fool.”
“I am concern about the way you are talking and believe you are going to do something very bad,” said another letter, dated May 27, 2017, that was among 10 unredacted documents released by Las Vegas police. Letters dating to 2013 and 2014 described the men doing business together.
“Please don’t go out shooting or hurting people who did nothing to you,” the May 27 letter pleaded. “Steve please please don’t do what I think you are going to do.”
Police did not receive the letters until nearly two months after Paddock rained gunfire from windows of a high-rise casino hotel into an outdoor concert crowd, killing 58 people and injuring more than 850. Paddock killed himself before police reached him. Two more people died later of their wounds.
The letters were found by new owners of a vacant office building in Mesquite, Texas, who mailed the letters to Las Vegas police. Police said the letters were forwarded to the FBI and that agents investigated.
A reference to the letters was among hundreds of pages of documents made public by the FBI last week in response to a records request from the Wall Street Journal. There was no description of their credibility, but an FBI record said Paddock sold property he owned in Mesquite in approximately 2012.
“Paddock used the money from that sale to buy dozens of weapons that were ultimately used in the shooting,” said a typewritten FBI report with sections blocked out that characterized other records as “negative for contact” between the writer and Paddock.
“We moved into an office and found … a folder full of what appears to be copies of letters,” said a brief Nov. 30, 2017, cover letter with sender and recipient information redacted. “We wish you well with your investigation.”
In a statement Friday, the bureau in Las Vegas declined to comment and pointed to findings by Las Vegas police and the FBI that did not specify a motive for Paddock’s attack.
Police said in August 2018 that Paddock, 64, gambled away more than $1.5 million playing high-stakes video poker, amassed a cache of guns and became increasingly unstable — including distancing himself from his girlfriend and family. Paddock acted alone, investigators said, and meticulously planned the attack.
He also apparently scoped out large gatherings in at least four cities as potential targets, investigators said at the time, and booked rooms overlooking a Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago in August 2017 and a Life is Beautiful show in Las Vegas several weeks before executing his plan.
“It was all about doing the maximum amount of damage and him obtaining some form of infamy,” the FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas at the time said in January 2019.
“The FBI does not comment on individual interviews conducted during an investigation and we do not comment on (freedom of information) documents,” the bureau said Friday. “There is no new information that the FBI was not aware or that the FBI has not shared with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in this case. We stand by the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit key findings summary report.”
Las Vegas police declined to comment, and efforts by AP to contact Jim Nixon on Friday were not successful.
The Review-Journal identified Nixon as a disabled Vietnam War veteran and ex-convict who served prison time for tax fraud and is now 75. He told the newspaper he never contacted authorities about his concerns about Paddock.
“He did what he did and I feel bad I couldn’t have stopped him,” Nixon said. “I didn’t know he was going to do what he did.”
Associated Press writers Rio Yamat in Las Vegas and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.