Las Vegas Massacre: Two years later and questions remain

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LAS VEGAS — October 1, 2017 the worst mass shooting in modern America history occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the aftermath, 58 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival attendees would be dead, over 450 others wounded by gunfire after gunman Stephen Paddock fired down into the crowd from his 32nd floor suite at the MGM Resorts International (MGMRI) owned Mandalay Bay Hotel.

Today, October 1, 2019, marks the end of the two-year Statute of Limitations to file a civil complaint for injury resulting from the Massacre.

Stephen Paddock caught on video in the Mandalay Bay hotel hall. 

Survivors of the shooting and the families of those killed are to this day left with no answers as to why Stephen Paddock did what he did and how could MGMRI allow such a tragedy to occur on their property after years of being put on notice.

In the over 135 stories I wrote for the Baltimore Post-Examiner on the Las Vegas Massacre, why Paddock did what he did remains unanswered. All of the articles were backed up facts and documents – even disproving conspiracy theories, but the answer to why he fired on innocent people remains a mystery.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could not find a motive for Paddock’s actions and that just doesn’t sit right with survivors and family members of those killed who I have spoken to.

As to why MGMRI allowed Paddock to bring in an arsenal of weapons and ammunition into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and drive his vehicle onto their property with explosive materials, well that answer is simple. Corporate greed, negligence, and ignorance all were factors in that.

Why the LVMPD failed to have measures in place prior to the Massacre that could have minimized the loss of life that night, you can blame that on failed police leadership and political correctness. It took a tragedy for Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo who runs the LVMPD to finally wake up and implement measures post-October 1, 2017 that he should have had in place prior to the mass shooting. For more read our July 19 article Lombardo’s After-Action Review confirms incompetence, negligence led to October 1 Las Vegas Massacre’.

MGMRI, the FBI, and the LVMPD were fully aware of the threat posed by a sniper attack from an elevated position in a hotel high-rise tower, years before the Massacre, as I have described in several articles. But even lessons learned from that training scenario was ignored in the pre-planning stages for the festival.

Nothing was also learned from the 2014 incident when a convicted felon brought an arsenal of weapons into one of the high-rise towers of the Mandalay Bay, only being discovered by a hotel maid who entered the room and saw a high-powered rifle pointed to a window overlooking the Las Vegas Strip.

Hendrex retreating on the 32nd floor

Florida citizens were outraged at Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who came under scrutiny after his school resource deputy stood by and did nothing to save lives during the high school shooting. Israel was removed from his position.

LVMPD Field Training Officer Cordell Hendrex, who along with LVMPD Officer Elif Varsin and three armed Mandalay Bay Hotel assistant security supervisors, retreated on the 31st floor of the hotel for over four minutes on October 1, 2017, as gunman Stephen Paddock’s gunfire was killing and wounding the concert attendees. That armed contingent of five did nothing, made no attempt to get to the shooter, all the while they heard the carnage that was occurring over the police radio.

So, what is the difference between Israel and Lombardo – absolutely nothing, except in Las Vegas the media think Lombardo is a hero. The Vegas media coddled Lombardo time and again, all throughout his blatant lies to the public and not once called him out.

On June 6 the Baltimore Post-Examiner broke the story that Hendrex was no longer employed by the department. Lombardo was hiding that fact from the public until I found out.   On July 3 the Associated Press confirmed that Hendrex was fired on March 20.

Remember when George Knapp of KLAS-TV’s 8News Now I-Team sat across from Lombardo during his November 2, 2017 televised interview with him and Knapp did not challenge Lombardo when he made the statement, “In this case because of what the suspect did, officers made the decision to breach this doorway of the hotel room in case the guy was reloading, maybe he was reloading magazines, we didn’t want to give him the opportunity to keep firing.”

That was another Lombardo lie because the police waited one hour and five minutes after Paddock had already stopped firing to enter the room, so where was the urgency to get into the room. Why didn’t Knapp go after Lombardo on that? Maybe because there would be no more steak dinners with Lombardo. That’s Las Vegas investigative journalism at its finest.

ABC News’ Nightline also dropped the ball on December 18, 2018, when they aired their anatomy of the October 1 Las Vegas Massacre, ‘A Killer on Floor 32.’  ABC News completely left out any mention of not only Hendrex’s armed contingent failing to act to save lives, but they also failed to mention the three armed security personnel who were on the 32nd floor while Paddock was firing, and they too did nothing.

ABC did interview Mandalay Bay Security Officer Jesus Campos, but they failed to ask him why he didn’t call in and investigate when he heard drilling noises emanating from Paddock’s suite prior to the gunfire commencing after he had observed the bracket drilled into the 32nd floor fire stairwell door. Campos ignored it and just walked away down the hall. Some great national investigative journalism at work on that one.

It’s the same old story time and again. Everybody must cover everybody’s ass and the truth be damned and the hell with Freedom of the Press and informing the public of the facts.

In July of 2018, MGMRI did a despicable move when they filed lawsuits against more than 1,000 victims and survivors of the Massacre, claiming that MGMRI was immune from being sued based on “The Safety Act”.

How low can you go was evident when MGMRI hired process servers to go to the homes and workplaces of the survivors to serve them with the papers. MGMRI showed they could care less about the victim’s feelings and trauma and went into the gutter with that move.

On January 9, 2019, the Baltimore Post-Examiner published ‘Mock juries rule against MGM Resorts International Las Vegas in concert massacre, source says’. After that story was published, on February 19, attorneys representing MGMRI agreed to mediation with attorneys for the victims of the Las Vegas Massacre.

Once the mediation started all the lawsuits and court motions were put on hold.

The FBI took possession of all the evidence related to the October 1, 2017 mass shooting. To this day the FBI has not released any of their forensic analysis reports or investigative files to the public.

The Las Vegas Massacre was foreseeable and preventable and that is why MGMRI entered mediation and will settle.  If they don’t, MGMRI will lose their case in front of a civil jury, that you can bet on.

The heroes of October 1, 2017 were the police officers, fire and rescue personnel along with the many civilians who saved lives that night.

To the families of those who were killed and all the survivors, my heart goes out to you all and I will continue to investigate this tragedy until the entire truth comes out.

Unfortunately, many questions that are still outstanding surrounding the Las Vegas Massacre will most likely go unanswered.

In closing, my condolences to the family of California attorney Catherine Rose Lombardo (no relation to Sheriff Joe Lombardo) who passed away on September 18 in her home in Claremont, California. Catherine was just 54 years old and lost her 4-year battle against Ovarian Cancer.

We appeared together as guests on several shows discussing the Las Vegas Massacre. I spoke to Catherine a few weeks before her death and I knew she wasn’t doing well.

We last appeared together on the Jim Paris Live radio show on January 6. Catherine commented during the show, “I can’t say enough wonderful things about Doug Poppa and all his investigating. He has benefited everyone, immensely. He’s the one that knows more than anyone, he’s the one that’s been on the ground investigating this.”

Catherine was an outspoken voice for the victims and survivors of the Las Vegas Massacre, and she will always be remembered.


Top photo by Claudia Gestro