Gunman Researched Fenway Park, Boston Center for the Arts Before Vegas Massacre

The gunman who opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas researched Fenway Park and the Boston Center for the Arts in the months before the massacre, Boston police confirmed Thursday.

At this point there is no evidence that Stephen Paddock ever traveled to Boston. All that is known is that he did research on the city involving venues and hotel rooms overlooking those venues.

"We got a lot in this city, and we are going to step up our efforts around them," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said.

Boston police issued a statement Thursday saying they are aware of the reports and are working with their federal partners. Lt. Detective Mike McCarthy said federal officials told Evans that they found information while investigating Paddock that mentioned the Red Sox ballpark and the South End performing arts complex.

Fenway has hosted several concerts in recent months, including Lady Gaga, Billy Joel and New Kids on the Block. The Boston Center for the Arts mostly hosts smaller art shows and theater performances.

"Who knows what he was thinking," Boston Center for the Arts CEO and President Gregory Ruffer said Thursday.

The FBI said there is no information to indicate any threat to Boston.

"The FBI Boston Division is actively assessing intelligence and at this time has no information indicating specific and credible threats to any segment to our community," said Harold Shaw, special agent in charge for the FBI Boston Division. "Any possible nexus to Boston discovered during the ongoing investigation has and will be immediately briefed to the Boston Police Department, and other affected law enforcement agencies."

Boston law enforcement officials told NBC News the FBI and Boston police have been in touch since Wednesday evening regarding the information tying Paddock's web searches to the city. Boston police have also been in touch with Las Vegas police.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he is also aware of the reports, but there is no evidence of a threat that has anything to do with Massachusetts.

"We've been in regular contact with the (Massachusetts) Fusion Center, and they've been in regular contact with Las Vegas," he said. "We and many others are fully plugged in on that investigation, and there is no imminent threat to anything in Massachusetts."

Boston Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran said the team is taking extra precautions in the wake of the report.

"While there is currently no credible threat to Fenway Park according to public safety agencies, the Red Sox have been working with city, state, and federal officials on increased security measures for postseason games at Fenway Park," she said.

A senior Boston police official said Evans spoke to the Red Sox on Thursday to ensure that there will be extra police resources in and around the ballpark for Sunday's home playoff game against the Astros. Some of those resources will be seen and some will be undercover, the official said.

"It's all very scary," said State Sen. Michael Moore, Senate chair of the Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

"Since the Boston Marathon, we've all had concerns about any outdoor events," Moore said. "I think what we have to do is continue to be vigilant and try to make sure that we can provide the best security we can."

"There's only so much we can do. You take a city like Boston, New York, even Las Vegas. I don't know how we can actually secure or get security cameras or footage that's going to capture every single inch before an event."

Law enforcement officials also told NBC News that Paddock researched the Lollapalooza concert event in Chicago, which is held from Aug. 3-6. Other news outlets have reported that he had a hotel reservation but did not show up in Chicago on those dates.

The Chicago Police Department said it was aware of reports that Paddock may have had a hotel overlooking Lollapalooza.

Right now, the officals briefed on the investigation still don't know the motive behind the Las Vegas shooting and are trying to figure out what the Boston and Chicago research was all about.

The Boston division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is in Las Vegas assisting in the investigation, working with ATF units from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix. The Boston ATF would not comment on its involvement in the investigation.

Paddock led such a low-key, private life that no one seemed to know him well, and those who did had no sense he was capable of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Where other mass killers have left behind a trail of plain-sight clues that help investigators quickly understand what drove them to violence, the 64-year-old shooter had nearly no close friends, social media presence or other clear connections to the broader world.

Even the No. 2 official in the FBI said Wednesday he was surprised investigators have not uncovered more about why a man with no obvious criminal record would cause so much bloodshed.

"There's all kinds of things that surprise us in each one of these events. That's the one in this one, and we are not there yet," FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said. "We have a lot of work to do."

Working with what little they know, investigators have zeroed in on a weapon-buying binge Paddock went on one year before he gunned down 58 people Sunday at a country music festival from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay casino resort before killing himself.

They wonder if he had some sort of mental break at the time that drove him to start making plans for mass murder.

They also know he rented an apartment in a Las Vegas high-rise over another music festival the weekend before the massacre, though not why.

They know he was a major gambler and are looking at related records, though even in very public casinos he played the very private game of video poker.

They know he had a plan to survive the shooting and try to escape, though would not say how.

"This individual and this attack didn't leave the sort of immediately accessible thumbprints that you find on some mass casualty attacks," McCabe said. "Putting aside the somewhat dubious claims of responsibility that we see in each one of these instances, we look for actual indicators of affiliation, of motive, of intent, and so far we're not there. We don't have those sort of indicators."

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference Wednesday night that Paddock must have had some help along the way given his huge arsenal the explosive materials found in his car, and his meticulous plan, but they don't know who that might be.

Some who thought they knew him intimately could provide no help.

"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," Marilou Danley, 62, said in a statement read by her lawyer outside FBI headquarters in Los Angeles.

Danley returned Tuesday from the Philippines, where Paddock had sent her before the attack, and was being interviewed by the FBI.

Analyzing Paddock's computer, cellphone and other electronic devices, Investigators have found no obvious ideological motive, no clear connection to extremists or activist groups or outward display of mental illness.

Paddock wired $100,000 to the Philippines days before the shooting, said a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak publicly because of the continuing investigation. Investigators are trying to trace that money.

Danley, who was overseas for more than two weeks, said she was initially pleased when she was wired money from Paddock to buy a house for her family in the Philippines. But she later feared it was a way to break up with her.

She said she loved Paddock as a "kind, caring, quiet man" and hoped they would have a future together. She said she was devastated by the carnage and would cooperate with authorities as they struggle to get inside Paddock's mind.

The previous weekend, Paddock had rented a high-rise condo in a building that overlooked the Life is Beautiful alternative music festival featuring Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182, said Lombardo, who offered no other details about what led Paddock there.

On Sept. 28, the 64-year-old high-stakes gambler and real estate investor checked into Mandalay Bay and specifically requested an upper-floor room with a view of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, according to a person who has seen hotel records turned over to investigators.

Paddock wasn't able to move into the room until Saturday, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly and disclosed the information to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The room, which goes for $590 a night, was given to Paddock for free because he was a good customer who wagered tens of thousands of dollars each time he visited the casino, the person said.

Authorities are looking for hints in those details of the kind of life he lived, and the kind of victims and venue he targeted, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security and criminal profiler.

"We may never know to 100 percent certainty," he said. "But they will find out."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us