The brain of Stephen Paddock, the main suspect in the brutal mass shootings in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, was sent to the Stanford School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology for forensic analysis last week following the Clark County Coroner’s autopsy, which reported that no tumors or abnormalities were present. The study will be conducted at Stanford because it is one of the Coroner’s contracted neuropathology laboratories.
According to a chronology provided by County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, Paddock shot a barrage of bullets into the hallway, wounding a security guard, barricaded himself and killed 58 people in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history before shooting himself in the head. Mr. Lombardo also told the Independent that he intentionally shot into jet fuel tanks at the airport, targeting police officers that were responding to the carnage Paddock inflicted from his Mandalay Bay suite.
The UK Independent stated that the purpose of the study at Stanford is to determine the cause and manner of the gunman’s death. Joshua Sonnen, a neuropathologist at the University of Utah, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that any abnormalities found would probably not reveal a motive since, although they can cause aggressive behavior, conditions such as dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy are unlikely to cause highly planned violence. He added that since Paddock shot himself in the head, it is also very unlikely that all parts of the brain are still intact and available for study.
“The likelihood of an explanation coming from a study of Paddock’s brain tissue is very low,” said Sonnen. “Psychological disorders don’t show up on this type of study.”
The School of Medicine’s pathology department declined to comment on the status of the forensic analysis of Paddock’s brain. Although Sheriff Lombardo has released more details on what exactly happened that day, Las Vegas Coroner John Fudenberg told the Independent that he would await results from Stanford before issuing an official cause and manner of death.
As of Thursday, no clear motive has been discovered.
“If you told me an asteroid fell into Earth, it would mean the same to me. There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” Paddock’s younger brother Eric told the Washington Post. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There’s no political affiliation that we know of. There’s no religious affiliation that we know of.”
According to the New York Times, his father, Benjamin Paddock, was a bank robber who was diagnosed as psychopathic and was also on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s “Most Wanted” list for several years. However, it is unclear how life events may have influenced Stephen Paddock’s actions in Las Vegas.
On the possibility that Paddock was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the UK Independent reports that investigators are still awaiting results of a toxicology report. FBI investigators also told the Independent that they have conducted hundreds of interviews, looked at thousands of leads, searched his computers, collected thousands of pieces of evidence and analyzed hours of video footage to try to find a motive behind the attack.
In an email statement to The Daily, the Las Vegas Coroner’s Office wrote that while all 58 victims who died have been released to their families, Paddock will not be released until forensic analysis on his body is complete. The Coroner’s Office added that, beyond examination of his brain, no further study would be done at Stanford and that his body will remain at a secure location unless strictly necessary. Currently there is no date set for the public release of the forensic findings.
Contact Jose Antonio Avalos at j713 ‘at’ stanford.edu.