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Reclusive neighbour who showed no hint of horror he was planning

By Jeremy B White

In the quiet retirement community northeast of Las Vegas that was home to Stephen Paddock, there were plenty of questions - but very few answers.

As more details trickled out about Paddock and the staggering crime he had committed in the city 80 miles away, those who lived close to him could express little more than bewilderment and surprise.

The man who lived at Babbling Brook Court - the driveway to his modest home now blocked by bright yellow police tape - had set off no red flags, and done nothing to suggest the 64-year-old was capable of the murder he unleashed in such calculated fashion on Sunday.

That is not to say Paddock, who lived with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was especially sociable or a mainstay of community activities. Rather, since he bought the property two years ago, Paddock and Ms Danley lived quietly, making frequent trips into Las Vegas where both gambled and enjoyed doing so.

Such was the low profile Paddock appeared to have kept, one neighbour who lived just a few doors away said he struggled to recognise the man whose face overnight has appeared on the front of newspapers around the world.

Standing in his driveway looking out at Paddock's home, Rod Sweningson said he knew the residents on either side of the property now being searched by police, but not Paddock himself.

"I look at his picture on the tube but it doesn't ring a bell," said Mr Sweningson. "He was reclusive."

The 57-year-old said that when he first saw police vehicles swarming at the property he assumed it was because of excessive socialising. "My first thought was someone must be having a heck of a party."

Another resident of Sun City Mesquite, a development of about 1,400 homes, who was walking his dog and who asked not to be named, also suggested Paddock had lived an unremarkable life there.

If he had passed him on the sidewalk, he said, he would not have recognised him.

Yet, however stunned residents here may feel, they have now been forced to confront an almost inconceivable reality; that the long-ago divorced, retired accountant, made use of this quiet place, surrounded by mountain tops, mesa and clean desert air, to plan and prepare for what was the deadliest mass killing in modern US history.

In addition to the 23 weapons discovered in Paddock's suite in the Mandalay Bay casino and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, police also recovered 19 guns from his house in Mesquite. Inside the single-storey property, officers also found explosives.

Meanwhile, inside one of two vehicles registered to Paddock - a Hyundai Tucson or a Chrysler Pacifica Touring - officers found ammonium nitrate, a vital ingredient in homemade bombs. The news caused many to ask whether Paddock had in mind a massacre on an even greater scale.

Much like Paddock's neighbours, police were scrambling to explain what motivation lay behind Sunday's attack, when he opened fire on a country music festival, killing 59 people and injuring at least 527.

One senior US homeland security official told Reuters there was no evidence that Paddock had even passing links to either international or domestic terror groups. His record showed no history of lawbreaking.

"We cannot even rule out mental illness or some form of brain damage, although there's no evidence of that either," they said. Officials have revealed that Paddock purchased weapons legally from a number of gun shops in the West, one in Las Vegas and one in Mesquite called Guns & Guitars.

The shop, where long guns and targets shaped like a rabid dog and a zombie woman hung behind the counter, was shuttered on Tuesday. But its general manager Christopher Sullivan earlier told NBC News Paddock had bought a handgun and two rifles within the last two years.

"All necessary background checks and procedures were followed, as required by local, state, and federal law.

"He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time," Mr Sullivan said.

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