After 58 people were killed by a gunman at the Harvest Music Festival Sunday night, authorities are scrambling to figure out the killer’s motives. Suspected shooter Stephen Paddock was found dead in the hotel room that the gunfire originated from, with over ten guns in the room with him. And while police know the identity of the suspect, the search for his motives has been fruitless as of yet.
Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree, was the son of a dangerous bank robber and escaped convict. But he himself didn’t have a criminal record, either with the federal or state governments.
His brother Eric was “dumbfounded,” and had no insight into what his motives might have been or where he might have gotten his weapons. The last text Eric received from his brother asked how their mother was doing. Apart from Paddock’s gambling, several rental properties and relationship with an as-yet-unnamed Australian woman, little is known about his life or the motives that he may have had for the killings.
As of the time of this article, Paddock had no known accomplices in his act and no ties to larger terrorist or criminal organizations. While the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deaths, the FBI’s investigation into the matter has found no connection.
In the absence of hard data on the killer’s motives, the public discussion has turned to whether or not the killings were an act of terrorism.
Nevada’s criminal code defines an act of terrorism as “any act that involves the use of…coercion or violence” which is intended to cause “great bodily harm or death to the general population” or “substantial destruction, contamination or impairment” of buildings. The shooting, which killed 58 and injured more than 500, handily fits that definition.
But not everyone is willing to call the deadly shooting an act of terror.
To learn more about the debate on whether the tragedy was an act of terrorism, click NEXT PAGE.