Shortly after Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo revealed that he found it "hard to believe" that mass shooter Stephen Paddock had no help in planning and setting up the horrific massacre of 58 people — with more than 500 more wounded — on Sunday, a report emerged that investigators were searching for a "mystery woman" who may have some connection to Paddock, and to the deadly machine gun attack on a crowd of concertgoers.
According to a Thursday report by NBC News, the woman was seen with Paddock in the days before October 1, when Paddock carried out the massacre, but they cannot yet say whether the woman was involved in planning the attack with Paddock.
But according to Lombardo, the logistics and planning that went into the deadly attack, with Paddock setting up a perch in a 32nd floor window at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and creating a sophisticated video surveillance system that would warn him of anyone approaching his hotel room, was likely too complex for a lone individual to carry out.
"Do you think this was all accomplished on his own? You've got to make the assumption he had to have some help at some point," Lombardo said at a briefing for media on Wednesday, according to CNN.
The NBC News report on the "mystery woman," however, did not reveal any details about the woman — such as a possible description, or any locations where she and Paddock were seen together prior to the mass shooting. The law enforcement officials who provided the information to NBC about the "mystery woman" also did not say whether they believe she had any connection to the shooting, only that they hope she can provide information to help them "build a timeline of Paddock's last days."
Paddock died, apparently by self-inflicted gunshot wound, as police closed in on him — a full 72 minutes after the gunfire began at about 10:08 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday night.
Paddock fired on the crowd of 22,000 assembled at a country music concert below for somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, but even though investigators now believe that he planned to escape after the shooting, he was still in the 32nd floor room when police finally figured out where the hail of rapid-fire gunshots came from.
Paddock's behavior has raised questions about why, if his intention was to kill as many people as possible, he stopped firing after 10 minutes when police showed no sign of locating him, and why he simply stayed in the room for another hour. When cops broke in and found Paddock dead, they also found "multiple loaded high-capacity magazines" in the room along with numerous assault rifles and handguns, according to an ABC News report, indicating that Paddock could have continued firing on the crowd for much longer than he did, inflicting far more casualties.
Police do not believe that Paddock's girlfriend, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, was the "mystery woman" they now seek. Danley is believed to have been in the Philippines with relatives for a week prior to the attack.
Police also did not tell NBC whether they believed there was any connection between the "mystery woman" seen with Paddock in the days before the massacre, and an unidentified woman reported in the crowd of 22,000 who, about 45 minutes before the shooting started, was heard screaming at concertgoers, "You're all going to f****** die!"
Any friends or acquaintances of Paddock's could prove significant, because the mass shooter has been described as a loner with few friends and no social media presence. Though he was known in Las Vegas as a frequent high roller who liked to wager into the tens of thousands of dollars, his preferred game of chance was reportedly video poker, which required only that he sit for hours front of a machine, alone.
[Featured Image by Eric Paddock/AP Images]