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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
# Mandalay Bay
First police officers on scene say they feared booby traps in Stephen Paddock's hotel room
The makeshift SWAT team arrived within 12 minutes after the first shots were fired.

POLICE OFFICERS WHO were the first to enter the hotel room of mass shooter Stephen Paddock in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas have described how they believed he had set booby traps for them.

The makeshift SWAT team of police officers who made it to Paddock’s door at the Mandalay Bay hotel casino 12 minutes after the first shots were fired described how they got there and the “gun store” they found inside in an appearance on the CBS television program 60 Minutes last night.

One of them said he hurried from police headquarters to the Mandalay Bay in cowboy boots and ditched them before ascending to the 32nd floor in search of the gunman.

“I just threw them in the casino,” Detective Matthew Donaldson said. “That was slowing me down. I was faster barefoot, and I was gonna be more effective barefoot.”

The officers said they heard reports of gunmen on both the 29th and 32nd floors, so “we’re thinking multiple shooters at this point,” Sergeant Joshua Bitsko said.

They zeroed in on the 32nd floor after Paddock unleashed about 200 rounds at a security guard outside his door.

When they got to the stairwell door on that floor near Paddock’s room, they found he had taken special measures to slow them down.

“He had screwed shut the door — with a piece of metal and some screws,” Bitsko said. “Cause he knew we’d be coming out that door to gain entry into his door. So he tried to barricade it as best he could.”

But another officer had a pry bar and was able to easily pop it open, Bitsko said.

Authorities would later reveal that Paddock had surveillance cameras rigged inside and outside his room. But the officers didn’t know that at the time.

“There’s a room service cart with wires going on it underneath the door,” Officer Dave Newton said.

There was something black on top of the cart. So initially I’m, you know, I’m thinking, ‘This is a booby-trap. It’s, it’s going to explode.’

Bitsko and Newton are K9 officers who had been training dogs when they got the call about Mandalay Bay. They said they were at a disadvantage approaching because  he knew we were coming and we were going to have to come through,” Newton said. “We didn’t know where he was going to be in that room.”

Bitsko said it was “like a deadly game of hide and seek,” and thought “‘Man, I wish I had my dog with me,’ because, you know, it’s nice to have him lead a team.”

It turned out Paddock had already shot and killed himself when they finally entered.

Inside, Newton said he found “so many guns. So many magazines. Stacks and stacks of magazines everywhere.

Just in suitcases all neatly stacked against pillars, around the room, all stacked up, rifles placed all throughout. All kinds of monitors and electrical equipment he had in there. It just looked like almost a gun store.

More searches

Meanwhile, federal investigators returned to search the home of gunman Paddock yesterday.

The search of Paddock’s three-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, was for “re-documenting and re-checking,” said local police Chief Troy Tanner, who accompanied FBI agents as they served the search warrant.

“I don’t think they are after anything specific,” Tanner told The Associated Press. “They’re going through everything and photographing everything again.”

The home was first searched Monday by Las Vegas police, who said they found 19 guns and several pounds of potentially explosive materials at the house that Paddock bought in early 2015.

The search came exactly a week after Paddock opened fire on a country music crowd, killing 58 and injuring nearly 500. Investigators are struggling to find a motive behind the shootings.

At 10.05 pm, the Las Vegas Strip’s bright lights dimmed for about 10 minutes to mark the passing of exactly a week since the attack.

Most casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard darkened their marquees briefly Sunday.

Officials say more than 50 properties around town also took part in the memorial.

Security measures

Las Vegas hotel and gambling magnate Steve Wynn, who owns casinos that Paddock gambled in but not the Mandalay Bay, said yesterday that his hotels have undertaken special security measures in recent years to identify potentially dangerous guests.

Those measures include using magnetometers to detect significant amounts of metal and training housekeeping staff to report suspicious actions like a do-not-disturb sign remaining on a door for extended periods.

“If a room goes on ‘do not disturb’ for more than 12 hours, we investigate,” Wynn, whose hotels include Wynn Las Vegas and Encore told Fox News Sunday in an interview.

We don’t allow guns in this building unless they’re being carried by our employees, and there’s a lot of them. But if anybody’s got a gun and we find them continually, we eject them from the hotel.

Wynn said a scenario like Paddock’s “would have triggered a whole bunch of alarms here. And we would have, on behalf of the guests, of course, investigated for safety, and it would have been a provocative situation.”

Wynn said that under a counter-terrorism plan put in place in 2015, they “profile or inspect or examine everybody that enters the building”.

With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: Vegas gunman had written note to help him calculate more precise shots

Read: Gun stocks rise following mass shooting in Las Vegas


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