Stephen Paddock was married previously and currently had a girlfriend. He bought 33 guns in the past year, USA Today says. He was a real estate developer, but his full-time job was gambling. He was wealthy.
Paddock had no apparent ties to any terrorist groups, no political animosity or religious zealotry that might set him off.
So, what made him kill 59 people and injure more than 500 others in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history?
There’s one nugget in there that many people have overlooked, but that may provide an important clue.
As a gambler, according to The Associated Press, “his game of choice was video poker, a relatively solitary pursuit with no dealer and no humans to play against. And while neighbors described Paddock as friendly, he wasn’t close to them.”
Police still have no answers to Paddock’s motive. Joseph Lombardo, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sheriff who has become the face of the investigation, questioned whether anyone would ever truly understand why the shooter did what he did, Yahoo reported.
Even his girlfriend apparently saw no warning signs of the mass shooting.
Perhaps that’s the way Paddock wanted it.
No clues. No warning. No history of hatred or violence.
The sheriff is likely correct. We never will fully understand why.
But it began in his head. His heart left him long ago.
He was a loner.
Even though he had relationships, he kept secrets.
Many men keep secrets. We’re good at that. Especially those of us who struggle mightily to share our thoughts and feelings with someone else, even a spouse or close friend. Some of us never figure that out.
I understand loneliness very well.
It’s hard to describe or explain. Loners by definition do not share their deepest thoughts, desires or fears with anyone. When we feel injured or wronged, we internalize our feelings, twisting the pain over and over in our brains, most likely increasing the hurt and convincing ourselves that the person who wronged us had motives that he or she most likely didn’t.
In other words, we make the problem bigger than it really is. But that becomes our reality.
Crossing the line
What pain did Paddock suffer that affected his brain and/or damaged his heart so severely that he buried it?
It may not have been one thing. Perhaps little things just added up over the years, until he crossed a line.
Most loners don’t kill people. We react to internal pain differently than that. I’m sure we hurt the people closest to us by not opening up to them, not sharing our feelings and seeking help or at least a different perspective.
Paddock apparently had anger issues. I saw reports that he berated his girlfriend in public numerous times. Perhaps he was a control freak.
Perhaps he just didn’t know how to relate to a woman.
I wonder how prevalent that is in American society. Probably more so than any of us would care to admit.
Paddock didn’t care about people. He didn’t understand the human soul. If he did, he wouldn’t have destroyed so many.
How do we overcome loneliness? Can we discover that it’s enjoyable to be around other people?
Many of you won’t understand that question. You do enjoy the company of others. Affection and joy come naturally to you.
I envy you.
Some of us prefer to be alone. Even if we are in a long-term relationship, alone time is valuable to us. That’s not a slight against our significant others; it’s not their fault. Even though that hurts them. Deeply.
So, what’s the answer?
Talking about our feelings, wishes and desires.
I know that.
But that doesn’t mean I do it.
It’s not natural. I daresay more men, especially, than we think understand this.
I’m 57 years old. I’ve never in my life had an “accountability partner,” someone I can share my deepest secrets with.
Opening my deep heart with a man I trust would cross a line.
This line is worth crossing. Indeed, it’s necessary for inner peace and healing.
I should intentionally step out in faith and do it.
Trust does not come easy, however, when we’ve never done it.
So we continue to hurt ourselves, and we hurt those closest to us.
What was Paddock’s dark secret? Was it the gambling? If so, why did it turn lethal?
Or was it something else, something he never told anyone?
Did he keep a journal? I’m sure the authorities will find it if he did. That’s a place to write our deepest thoughts, yet keep them hidden.
We can’t hide our thoughts and feelings forever. I think we all know that.
We rent a hotel room, as Paddock did, for a myriad of reasons. Motive isn’t always as obvious as it seems.
My wife and I rented a room in Glendale, Colo., recently. The motel clerk did not know why, nor did she care – as long as we gave her our credit card to pay for it. We were there to visit our son who lives there, certainly a legitimate reason to rent a motel room.
Paddock spent thousands of dollars a day at the casino tied to the hotel where he rented a room last weekend. Over the years he gambled so much at that casino, they gave him the room for free. He was there to gamble, the hotel staff thought, I’m sure. Or, perhaps to see the country music festival, since he requested a room overlooking the venue.
We now know he had a different motive. Even his girlfriend was unaware.
Why do we do the things we do? Why do we think the thoughts we think?
We cannot hide
Some of us prefer to keep those answers to ourselves.
But we will get found out.
Even if I hide my thoughts from you, the living God knows everything about me. I cannot hide from Him. That’s why you cannot judge me, but He can. You don’t know my motives. God does.
We may never know Paddock’s true motive. But God does.
Justice will come.
For you and me as well.
Ultimately, we cannot hide. We will get exposed.
Sooner or later.
Sooner is better. Let’s talk.