US President Donald Trump will reckon with the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas as he meets Wednesday with survivors and law enforcement officials in a time of grief.
Trump heads to the city days after a gunman on the 32nd floor of a Vegas Strip hotel and casino opened fire on people at an outdoor country music festival below.
The Sunday night rampage by Stephen Craig Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured 527, some from gunfire and some from a chaotic escape.
All but three of the dead had been identified by Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said.
At least 45 patients at two hospitals remain in critical condition.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump said he would be in Las Vegas to “pay our personal respects and condolences to everybody. What happened is such a tragedy. So unnecessary. Who can believe what happened to Las Vegas?” He later added that it was “a very horrible thing even to think about.”
Trump was to be joined by first lady Melania Trump. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he and Rep. Mark Amodei, a Nevada Republican, also would make the trip.
As he departed the White House Tuesday for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump called the Las Vegas gunman “demented” and a “very, very sick individual.” Trump also praised Las Vegas police, saying they had done an “incredible job.”
Asked about gun laws, the president said, “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”
The Las Vegas gunman’s girlfriend, meanwhile, arrived back in the US on Tuesday night after a weeks-long trip abroad.
She will be at the center of the investigation into the shooting deaths as authorities try to determine why a man with no known record of violence or crime would open fire on a concert crowd from a high-rise hotel.
Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, 62, who was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting, was met by FBI agents at the airport in Los Angeles late Tuesday night, according to a law enforcement official.
Danley first arrived in the Philippines on September 15, according to immigration documents there. She departed on September 22 then returned three days later on a flight from Hong Kong. She was traveling on an Australian passport.
Philippines immigration bureau spokeswoman Antonette Mangrobang said authorities there had been working with US officials “From the very beginning.”
Danley’s Australia-based sisters say they believe Paddock sent her away so she wouldn’t interfere with his plans.
Australia’s Channel 7 TV network interviewed the sisters with their faces obscured and their names withheld. They said they believe their sister couldn’t have known about his ideas.
The woman said Danley is “a good person” who would have stopped Paddock had she been there.
One of the sisters, who lives near Brisbane, Queensland, said they believed Marilou knew Paddock had guns, but not as many as he had.
“She probably was even (more) shocked than us because she is more closer to him than us,” her sister said.
Paddock transferred $100,000 to the Philippines in the days before the shooting, a US official briefed by law enforcement but not authorized to speak publicly because of the continuing investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Investigators are still trying to trace that money and also looking into a least a dozen financial reports over the past several weeks that said Paddock gambled more than $10,000 per day, the official said.
As for what may have set Paddock off, retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente speculated that there was “some sort of major trigger in his life — a great loss, a breakup, or maybe he just found out he has a terminal disease.”
Clemente said a “psychological autopsy” may be necessary to try to establish the motive. If the suicide did not destroy Paddock’s brain, experts may even find a neurological disorder or malformation, he said.
He said there could be a genetic component to the slaughter — Paddock’s father was a bank robber who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list in the 1960s and was diagnosed a psychopath.
“The genetics load the gun, personality and psychology aim it, and experiences pull the trigger, typically,” Clemente said.
Paddock had a business degree from Cal State Northridge. In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked as a mail carrier and an IRS agent and held down a job in an auditing division of the Defense Department, according to the government. He later worked for a defense contractor.
He had no known criminal record, and public records showed no signs of financial troubles.
Nevada’s Gaming Control Board said it will pass along records compiled on Paddock and his girlfriend to investigators.
His brother, Eric Paddock, said he was at a loss to explain the massacre.
“No affiliation, no religion, no politics. He never cared about any of that stuff,” he said outside his Florida home.
Eric Paddock said his brother did show a confrontational side at times: He apparently hated cigarette smoke so much that he carried around a cigar and blew smoke in people’s faces when they lit up around him.
While Paddock’s motive has proved elusive, investigators have found no shortage of evidence of how Paddock carried out the elaborate attack.
He planned the massacre so meticulously that he even set up cameras inside the peephole of his high-rise hotel room and on a service cart outside his door, apparently to spot anyone coming for him, authorities said.
Investigators also found a computer and 23 guns with him at the hotel, along with 12 “bump stock” devices that can enable a rifle to fire continuously, like an automatic weapon, authorities said. Nineteen more guns were found at Paddock’s Mesquite home and seven at his Reno house.
During the Sunday night rampage, a hotel security guard who approached the room was shot through the door and wounded in the leg.