Las Vegas shooter’s girlfriend denies knowledge of planned carnage

People stop at a makeshift memorial near the site of Sunday night’s mass shooting, along the Last Vegas Strip. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2017
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Las Vegas shooter’s girlfriend denies knowledge of planned carnage

LAS VEGAS: The girlfriend of the Las Vegas shooter said Wednesday she had no idea he was planning the attack, describing her boyfriend as a “quiet, caring man” as President Donald Trump declared the US a nation in mourning.
In her first public comments over the shooting at a country music concert that left 58 dead and 489 wounded, Marilou Danley said she had hoped for a quiet future with Stephen Paddock.
In Las Vegas, Trump visited with survivors and first responders, eulogizing parents and spouses who “used their own bodies to protect their loved ones” from the onslaught that eliminated any future for many.
He toured the Las Vegas Police Department Command Center and the city’s University Medical Center, where he met, among others, officer Tyler Peterson who was injured while responding to the shooting.
“In the months ahead, we will all have to wrestle with the horror that unfolded this week. But we will struggle through it together,” the president said.
Air Force One touched down at McCarran International Airport as the FBI was questioning Danley for clues to what drove Paddock to mass murder.
The 62-year-old returned to the US from her native Philippines late Tuesday and was met by FBI agents.
In a statement read by her attorney Matthew Lombard, she said she had no hint of what was to come: “I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man.”
“I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him,” she said.
“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”
Danley added that two weeks ago, Paddock had told her he found a cheap plane ticket for her to visit family in the Philippines and had wired her money to purchase a house while she was there.
She said she became concerned at that point, thinking he wanted to break up with her.
“It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” said Danley, an Australian citizen who moved to the US 20 years ago to work on the casino strip.
US authorities have been at a loss as to how a 64-year-old gambler and retired accountant hauled a vast arsenal of weapons to his hotel room and launched his assault.
Investigators say the shooting appeared to be extensively planned: Paddock set up one camera in the peephole of his hotel room door and two in the hallway.
The attack unfolded in just 10 minutes from the first shot to the last, but Paddock was not confirmed dead for more than an hour after that, Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told journalists on Wednesday.
Lombardo said the scale of the preparations for the attack — including the weapons, ammunition and electronics he stockpiled — raise questions about Paddock potentially having had an accomplice, but none has been identified.
He also updated the number of people wounded in the attack, putting the latest figure at 489.
As the victims’ harrowing stories emerged in the media, America once again grappled with calls for reforms to its permissive firearm control laws.
Trump largely stuck to a talking point repeated by dozens upon dozens of Republican officials: “Well, we’re not going to talk about that today. We won’t talk about that.”
US officials have reacted cautiously to a claim by the Islamic State jihadist group that the shooter had carried out Sunday night’s massacre on its behalf.
Authorities said Paddock, who had no criminal record, smashed windows in his hotel room shortly after 10pm on Sunday and rained fire on a crowd of some 22,000 attending the country music concert below.
When a SWAT team stormed the room where Paddock had been staying since September 28, they found he had killed himself.
Authorities have seized 47 firearms from three locations.
So far, investigators have found nothing to explain Paddock’s actions, but were continuing to hunt and trace every possible clue about a gunman they described as a “psychopath.”
Trump confirmed that no motive had yet been found. “I can tell you, it’s a very sick man. He was a very demented person,” he said.
Details have gradually emerged about some of the victims — a kindergarten teacher from California who had married her childhood sweetheart, a Tennessee nurse, a high-school secretary from New Mexico.
Stories of heroism also surfaced. Bruce Ure, deputy police chief of the small Texas city of Seguin, was in the concert’s VIP section when the gunfire broke out.
He sheltered from the bullets between two buses, then tended to three strangers who had been shot, loading them into a passing car and riding with them to hospital.
“They were all crying, and I was too,” he told AFP. “They were saying that ‘We’re going to die, we’re going to die,’ and I still remember telling them: ‘Not tonight, not tonight. Tonight’s not your night. You’re going to be ok.’ Because I truly believed it.”
While the White House has rebuffed calls to reopen the fraught US debate on gun control, Congress did shelve a controversial plan to make it easier to purchase gun silencers and make it more difficult to classify certain ammunition as “armor piercing.”
The Las Vegas attack is the deadliest shooting in recent US history, surpassing the toll of 49 dead in an attack on a Florida nightclub in June 2016.


Elected PM, Khan pledges to punish ‘all those who have robbed Pakistan’

Updated 9 min 52 sec ago
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Elected PM, Khan pledges to punish ‘all those who have robbed Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani lawmakers elected former cricket legend Imran Khan prime minister on Friday and he pledged to bring to justice “all those who have robbed this country” through corruption.
Parliament’s move cleared the way for the 65-year-old Khan to set up a coalition government and his first major task will be to avert a brewing economic crisis after his party swept to election victory on July 25.
Khan’s party won power on an anti-status quo platform, vowing to fight corruption and lift millions of people out of poverty.
Pakistan has been plagued by boom-and-bust cycles and military coups since independence in 1947, as well as by militant violence in more recent years.
Khan, a firebrand nationalist, has promised to create millions of jobs and build world-class hospitals and school systems in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people.
Among his first challenges will be to decide whether to request an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout to ease currency pressures, or seek support from China and risk deepening Pakistan’s economic dependence on its neighbor.
“I want to thank the people and I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to bring change,” Khan, wearing a black waistcoat over traditional white shalwar kameez robes, said in a combative speech in parliament.
“First of all we have to do strict accountability,” Khan added. “Those who have robbed this country, I will hold each and every one of you accountable.”
In a sign of Pakistan’s bitter political divisions, opposition lawmakers surrounded Khan and disrupted his speech throughout by shouting “thief, thief Imran Khan” and “puppet.”
Khan’s election was only the second democratic transfer of power since Pakistan’s 1947 independence, and came at a time when relations with on-off ally the United States are fraying over alleged Pakistani support for militants waging war in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies aiding insurgents.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party holds 151 of the 342 seats in the lower chamber of parliament, short of a majority, but is expected to form a coalition government with smaller parties.
In Friday’s lower house vote, Khan garnered 176 votes to defeat Shehbaz Sharif from the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, who won 96 votes. Khan, who will be sworn in on Saturday, has yet to announce his Cabinet.
His success in the election ended decades of political dominance by two dynastic powerhouses, the PML-N of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), founded and led by the Bhutto family.
But Khan will face a battle to push through his ambitious reforms and legislative agenda due to the thin majority in the National Assembly. The Senate, Parliament’s upper chamber, is controlled by the opposition.
“Legislative business will be difficult for him,” said Raza Ahmad Rumi, editor of the Daily Times newspaper.
Opposition parties allege election rigging and say Khan’s path to power was made easier by the tacit support of the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for nearly half its history. The army and Khan’s PTI deny any collusion.
“The whole nation has rejected this election,” said Shehbaz Sharif, demanding an investigation of electoral irregularities.
Murtaza Abbasi, a PML-N lawmaker, said in Parliament Khan was “brought here by aliens,” a euphemism for the military.
Khan shot back that he had “struggled 22 years” to become premier and would not be “blackmailed.”
“No military dictator raised me. I got here on my own,” Khan said.
How Khan addresses historic civil-military tensions that have dogged successive governments could define his term.
No Pakistani premier has ever completed a five-year term in office, including Sharif, whose most recent stint in power was ended by the Supreme Court last year.
Sharif, who was jailed over corruption accusations several weeks before the election, saw his second stint in power ended by a military coup in 1999.
The economy is likely to preoccupy Khan’s first few months in office, with his administration facing a battle to reduce a ballooning current account gap and a high fiscal deficit, which shot up to 6.8 percent of GDP in the 12 months to end of June.
To deal with current account pressures Pakistan’s central bank has devalued the rupee four times since December, while interest rates have been hiked three times this year.
A sharp increase in oil prices — Pakistan imports about 80 percent of oil needs - has contributed to a current account deficit that widened by 43 percent to $18 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
China has also provided billions of dollars in loans to shore up Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves, which stand at just over $10.1 billion - enough to cover two months of imports.
Earlier this week Asad Umar, widely expected to be appointed Finance Minister, told the English-language Dawn newspaper that Pakistan turning to the IMF would be a “fallback option” and that all other possibilities are being explored.