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FBI Analysis Of Las Vegas Shooting Ends Without A Clear Motive Identified


The FBI says it's completed an analysis of the mass shooting in Las Vegas back in October 2017. That's when Stephen Paddock killed 58 people. Nearly 900 others were injured in the melee. Paddock then shot and killed himself. It was the single deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The FBI could not find any clear motive. NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now from Las Vegas. And, Leila, first of all, tell us a little more about the FBI's probe into this.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: So the FBI shared its key findings from this report from the Behavioral Analysis Unit. And experts spent nearly a year poring over information and evidence, and they still couldn't find a single, clear motive. The shooter wasn't driven by a religious, social or political agenda. He acted alone. They didn't find a manifesto, a suicide note, a video or really anything to explain why he did this. But the report also said that often shooters don't have any singular big motive behind these really senseless acts of violence. They say it's often a combination of things like in this case. The report found that the shooter was at least in part driven by the desire to die by suicide. And remember; he did kill himself at the end of this horrific shooting. And he wanted to be infamous.

CORNISH: Now, what makes the FBI think that he wanted to die?

FADEL: Well, the report's findings depict a man whose physical and mental health were declining. He wasn't a healthy 64-year-old. And apparently, he was making plans that you make at the end of your life, and he wanted to take control of how he died. And he might have also been inspired by his father, who was a bank robber and fugitive and was on the FBI's top 10 Most Wanted list in 1968. This was also very carefully planned. The shooter stockpiled weapons and ammunition, and he went on this year-long buying spree. He had 47 firearms the day he opened fire on these people.

And he was researching police tactics and response, ballistics, and he was going to different sites to figure out where he could inflict the most damage on a lot of people. But he didn't have a particular grudge against the people he shot or the hotel he chose to do it from. He just wanted to hurt people. And the FBI report found that the shooter didn't have much empathy, that he saw people through this transactional lens. And so hurting people that were just out having fun matched his personality.

CORNISH: So many people were affected by this. What are survivors saying today?

FADEL: Yeah. I spoke with Mynda Smith, and her sister was shot and killed, and her name was Neyshe Tonks. She was a single mother of three boys - those boys now being raised by their grandparents here in Las Vegas. And she said she'd rather that the shooter take the reasons he did this to his grave than he be alive.

MYNDA SMITH: Honestly, to not have the answers in exchange for not having to deal with him, I'm OK with that. You know, I truly believe that if he had lived, he would have just made my parents' life miserable. He - you know, we would have been caught up in trials and having to listen to things that he would say.

FADEL: The Las Vegas police closed their investigation over the summer - also found no motive, no why. So no one's looking into that anymore. And a lot of people really do want to know why. But for others, this aftermath has been just traumatizing and emotionally exhausting and that they're - the last thing they're thinking about is the motive.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Leila Fadel. Thank you.

FADEL: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.