Las Vegas gunman emailed about bump stocks months before rampage: Documents

Bump stocks believed to be used in the massacre were found in the 32nd-floor hotel room. (Reuters)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Las Vegas gunman emailed about bump stocks months before rampage: Documents

LAS VEGAS: Three months before killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 in Las Vegas last October, the gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in US history sent emails discussing buying bump stocks, which can make semiautomatic rifles fire hundreds of rounds a minute, media reports on unsealed search warrants showed.
Bump stocks believed to be used in the massacre were found in the 32nd-floor hotel room from where Stephen Paddock fired down on a crowd gathered on a Sunday night for the finale of a country music festival held on the Las Vegas Strip.
The details suggesting the attack may have planned months in advance were part of more than 300 pages of search warrants unsealed by a federal judge in Nevada on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times, one of several publications that sought release of the documents.
Reuters was unable to obtain a copy of the documents on Friday night.
The unsealed documents do not provide a motive for the killings, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Paddock shot and killed himself before police arrived at his hotel room the night of the shootings.
The documents also showed that Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, told investigators before they searched a house that the two shared that they might find her fingerprints on ammunition “because she occasionally participated in loading magazines,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
In the days after the shootings, authorities called Danley a “person of interest.” Her attorney has said she had no inkling of Paddock’s plans.
Documents posted online by the Review-Journal showed that FBI agents sought information from Microsoft and Facebook regarding the accounts held by Paddock and Danley.
Microsoft and Facebook did not immediately respond to emails and calls from Reuters on Friday night.
An unsealed search warrant shows that an email sent July 6, 2017 from an account linked to Paddock to an address that he may also have controlled discusses the use of bump stocks “for a thrill,” according to an affidavit posted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The emails also mentioned trying out an AR-style rifle before purchasing one.
The Los Angeles Times reported that investigators are not sure why Paddock would send emails between accounts he controlled, or whether one was controlled by another person, which would mean, “investigators need to determine who was communicating with him about weapons that were used in the attack,” one of the warrants said.


South Africa’s leader cuts short UK visit after protests

Updated 14 min 35 sec ago
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South Africa’s leader cuts short UK visit after protests

  • South Africa’s foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that Botswana had closed its border with the province because of the chaos.
  • The ANC and its leadership also face internal divisions after the tumultuous resignation of former President Jacob Zuma in February.

MAHIKENG, South Africa: South Africa’s president has cut short a visit to Britain to return home and deal with violent protests in a provincial capital.
President Cyril Ramaphosa left the Commonwealth summit in London to respond to the turmoil in the North West capital of Mahikeng, where residents brought life to a standstill with protests over alleged corruption and calls for the premier to resign.
Ramaphosa was visiting the city on Friday in the most significant test of his public peacemaking skills since he took office in February.
A statement from the president’s office noted clashes with police and called for calm and engagement “rather than violence and anarchy.” It also urged police to show restraint in the city of about 300,000.
The unrest continued Friday, with state broadcaster SABC showing police firing rubber bullets to disperse looters in the streets. It reported that 23 people had been arrested, citing local police.
South Africa’s foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that Botswana had closed its border with the province because of the chaos, SABC reported.
South Africa’s next election is in 2019 and the ruling African National Congress party under Ramaphosa is eager to recover from its worst-ever election showing in 2016, in which the ANC lost control of major municipalities including commercial hub Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
The party and its leadership also face internal divisions after the tumultuous resignation of former President Jacob Zuma in February after multiple scandals and allegations of graft. Ramaphosa, Zuma’s former deputy, has repeatedly pledged to tackle the widespread corruption that had weakened investor confidence in one of Africa’s largest economies.
The North West premier, Supra Mahumapelo, is an ANC politician and has faced accusations of corruption from residents who say mismanagement has led to a decline in government services.
Similar protests have been common across South Africa, which the World Bank this year called, by any measure, “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”