Paddock motive a mystery

The motives of mass killers is usually known quite easily. Not so the Las Vegas killer, Stephen Paddock. So far no motive has been revealed, and Paddock doesn’t fit the usual profile of a mass murderer.

NY Times: No Manifesto, No Phone Calls: Las Vegas Killer Left Only Cryptic Clues

…in the four days since Stephen Paddock’s attack in Las Vegas — a shooting rampage that left 58 dead and hundreds seriously wounded — what drove him has remained a mystery, vexing the public and putting enormous pressure on federal and local investigators to find answers.

“In the spirit of the safety of this community or anywhere else in the United States I think it’s important to provide that information, but I don’t have it,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in an interview Thursday. “We don’t know it yet.”

No grandiose manifesto has been found. No account of Mr. Paddock behaving dangerously or holding extremist views has emerged from neighbors or relatives. Unlike past killers, Mr. Paddock did not dial up the police to explain his actions.

Agents have fanned out across the country, interviewing family members and friends and looking for signs of mental illness.

Mr. Paddock left a trail of clues that are, so far, more cryptic than revealing: There was a note in his hotel room whose exact contents the authorities have yet to reveal. Sheriff Lombardo said that it contained numbers that were being analyzed for their relevance, and that it was not a manifesto or suicide note.

Mr. Paddock may have scouted other locations, including Fenway Park in Boston, Lollapalooza in Chicago and the Life is Beautiful music festival in Las Vegas, before finally checking into a suite at the Mandalay Bay that had clear sight lines to Route 91, and a massive gathering of country music fans. He stockpiled expensive firearms over the course of many months.

Investigators have identified 47 firearms belonging to Mr. Paddock, including a dozen in his hotel suite that were enhanced to fire at an accelerated rate, and discovered a system of cameras Mr. Paddock set up to monitor the area around his location.

Despite the huge scale of the attack, why Mr. Paddock carried it out remained a huge and haunting question mark, said Steven B. Wolfson, the district attorney in Clark County, Nev., where the killings occurred. He estimated that in “99 percent of the cases,” the perpetrator of a drastic killing offers some kind of justification, however twisted.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t remember another homicide — and then you multiply what I’m about to say by 58 — where you don’t know why.”

Experts and law enforcement veterans caution that it can take time to establish a killer’s real motivations, piecing together electronic data with interviews and other shards of a life twisted into extreme violence.

Officials involved in the Las Vegas investigation have said they expect it will take an exhaustive search into Mr. Paddock’s past, spanning multiple states and decades of his life, to deduce what brought him to the windows of the Mandalay Bay hotel with such an elaborate plan for murder. In F.B.I. speak, they want to understand his “pathway to violence.”

They may discover what led to this massacre. Or it may remain a mystery.

Las Vegas shooting – many dead and injured

The death toll from shooting at a concert in Las Vegas is now 58, with hundreds injured. It is reported that a single gunman using at least 10 weapons fired on the crowd from the 32nd floor of a resort.

Motive for the killing appears to be unknown at this stage.

Fox News: Las Vegas shooting: At least 58 dead in massacre Trump calls ‘act of pure evil’

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

The gunman, who fired down on the Route 91 Harvest Festival from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just as police made entry to the room, according to LVMPD undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

The suspect was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Federal law enforcement sources told Fox News that Paddock “was known to local authorities” in Vegas.
paddock01

Alleged killer, retired accountant Stephen Paddock

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said an “excess of 10 rifles” were found in the room, but did not immediately reveal a motive. Paddock had been in the hotel room since September 28, according to Lombardo.

A horrible act in a country awash with firearms.

The question inevitably asked is whether there are wider terrorist links.

At this time, federal officials do not see any connection to international terrorism and little is known about Paddock’s motivation, sources said. The Islamic State terror group took credit for the Las Vegas shooting, saying the gunman converted to Islam months ago, but provided no evidence back up the claim.

FBI Special agent-in-charge Aaron Rouse said at a news conference the agency has “determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”

This is by far the worst massacre in the US for some time, but here are statistics for the year to date from the Gun Violence Archive:

Gun violence  and crime incidents are collected/validated from 2,500 sources daily – incidents and their source data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website.

1: Actual number of deaths and injuries
2: Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified

Another random killing

This looks like another case of a person being in the wrong place at the wrong time and losing their life.

RNZ: Man fatally stabbed after disturbing youths breaking into vehicle

A 54-year-old Hamilton man has died after he was stabbed while confronting a group of youths breaking into a vehicle.

Two teenagers have appeared in the Hamilton Youth Court following the death.

Police have launched a homicide investigation after local man Norman Kingi was found critically injured on Ranui Street at about 11:30pm last night.

He died shortly after midnight in Waikato Hospital.

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said it looked as if Mr Kingi disturbed a group of young people breaking into a vehicle and during a fight suffered a fatal wound.

He said a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old today appeared in the Youth Court, charged with aggravated wounding and unlawful interference with a motor vehicle.

A 12-year-old will be referred to Youth Aid.

Awful.

Northland shootings

The killing of two women and injuring of a man in Northland looks like a tragic and sad mix of mental illness and firearms.

It was known that the murderer was a frequent user of firearms.

It seems to have been known that he suffered from mental illness and depression, and he had a record of violence.

He didn’t have a firearms license but had somehow acquired a lot of weapons.

RNZ:  Gunman had multiple weapons – reports

Police are refusing to discuss how a convicted criminal who shot two women was able to collect firearms without a licence.

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

There are reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Police have confirmed he did not have a firearms licence.

He served 18 months in prison for stabbing a police officer multiple times with a 33cm hunting knife in Hamilton in 1983.

Patterson’s only sister, Gloria, says her brother’s mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly this year and she had urged him to seek help.

NZ Herald: Northland shooting: A portrait of killer Quinn Patterson

Friend Leah Cameron said Quinn’s father brought his children up with a “Doomsday” mentality.

“He was fatalistic about the world, that it was not a good place. He could have been classed as being a bit of a fanatic”.

He made his children dig graves with him and he and his wife apparently wrote a book about UFOs.

Patterson liked guns despite friends saying he did not have a licence and was not a hunter. Neighbours would often hear him shooting in his backyard.

“He just shot in his back lawn by the sounds of it, you could hear it from here, you could hear it from everywhere,” Walters said.

“They were big guns. we’re talking automatics, semi-automatics, big calibres. They sounded like cannons, you could hear them going off with, like, 16 rounds.

“He was just sort of a law unto his own.”

He became paranoid and started to accumulate several weapons. A friend told Newshub he had grenades, shotguns, rifles and hand guns. He had “barricaded” himself in the property with bars on the windows.

He was becoming more and more depressed and paranoid, friends said.

He had taken several types of medication over the years, including sleeping tablets and had tried natural medication, vitamins and exercise in an attempt to get better.

There are some obvious questions that need to be asked about all this.

Fox promotes the violent left

Fox news has been pushing quite a bit on ‘left bad, right good’ following the shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise by a Bernie Sanders supporter.

This is all on their current twitter feed:

That’s toned down?

They do have the occasional attempt on balance and conciliation:

But the division goes on. just tweeted:

Levels of rhetoric, division and violence look likely to continue unabated, despite what should have been a wake up call for politicians on both sides of the chasm.

Turei slams NZ First in child protection

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has strongly criticised NZ First for proposing a referendum on the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Winston Peters brought this up in a speech in March – see Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law? – but it resurfaced on Q+A yesterday, where NZ First MP Tracey Martin was interviewed along with Sue Bradford.

10 years on from the so called “anti-smacking” law – NZ First calls for a binding referendum

NZ First MP Tracey Martin told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the law change has had a “chilling effect” on NZ parents including herself.

“Well, we’ve always argued, for 25 years, around binding a referenda on issues like this, where our citizens need to speak. We have a representative democracy. 113 temporarily empowered politicians decided this for all the parents of New Zealand. The parents of New Zealand need to be able to speak on it,” said Mrs Martin.

“I remember me being a parent when this bill went through, and I felt that the language that was being used, the politicians that were telling me that if I lightly smacked my child, I was then committing abuse. I found that personally offensive. It had a chilling effect on my parenting. And I believe other parents out there feel the same,” she said.

However, Former Green Party MP and the architect behind the law changes Sue Bradford disagrees.

“For New Zealand First to want us to go backwards on something that’s so important for our babies, children and young people, I just find incredible.”

“From the point of view of protecting our children and babies and saying actually our young kids should have the right to grow up without violence,” says Mrs Bradford.

Turei responded: NZ First putting politics before child protection

NZ First has chosen to put political game playing ahead of the safety of children by proposing a referendum on the ten year old amendments to the Crimes Act.

NZ First MP Tracy Martin said on Q&A this morning that her Party wants to hold a binding referendum to repeal the 2007 amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act.

“I think it’s appalling that NZ First is willing to remove a basic protection for our kids in the hope it’ll buy them a few votes in election year,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This law change simply removed a legal loophole that had allowed people who assaulted children to escape charges by claiming it was ‘parental correction’.

“Parents aren’t being prosecuted for lightly smacking their children. NZ First is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

“It’s sad that a political party would choose to use its resources to campaign on removing child protections rather than finding solutions to child abuse,” said Ms Turei.

But it’s election year and populist vote pandering seems to take precedent over protection of children from violence.

 

US shootings

News of two shootings in the US, one of Republican politicians.

Fox News:  Scalise shooter ID’d as James Hodgkinson

A gunman believed to be a supporter of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sprayed a hail of bullets at a GOP baseball practice Wednesday morning, injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others before U.S. Capitol Police took down the rifle-wielding assailant.

The shooter, who had a violent history including arrests for battery, resisting arrest and drunken driving, was identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, of Illinois, Fox News confirmed. President Trump said Hodgkinson died from injuries sustained when he was shot by police.

It’s awful to see what appears to be a political shooting. Any mass attack is bad, targeting politicians (presuming they were specifically targeted) is terrible for democracy.

Bernie Sanders responded:

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

This is likely to spark debate (again) on US gun laws – for example why someone with a violent history was allowed access to firearms – and divisions in US politics.

Gezza has pointed out another shooting:  UPS says employee shoots, injures 4 at San Francisco delivery facility

 UPS employee opened fire at a San Francisco package delivery facility on Wednesday, injuring four and prompting a massive police response in a neighborhood near downtown, officials said.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told The Associated Press that an employee fired inside the facility before the drivers were sent out to do their normal daily deliveries. Gaut said four people were injured and that he believed the shooter “turned the gun on himself.”

Employee and ex-employee shootings seem to be common in the US, I saw of another in the news recently.

Earlier this month: Orlando shooting: ‘Disgruntled’ ex-employee had planned shooting, investigators say

The gunman who opened fire at an Orlando factory had planned to kill five of his former coworkers by singling them out and shooting them before turning the gun on himself, investigators confirmed on Tuesday.

Police had confronted Neumann once before at the factory, when he was accused of battering a co-worker in June 2014. The co-worker said Neumann punched him in the back of the head knocking him to the ground, according to the incident report. But the co-worker later said Neumann chased him and then hit him on the back of the head.

No charges were filed in the 2014 incident after both men were interviewed. The co-worker was not among Monday’s victims, Demings said. Aside from the 2014 incident, Neumann also had a criminal history “minor in nature,” with arrests for possession of marijuana and DUI.

Obviously the easy access to firearms is an issue in the US.

I think that the entertainment industry (‘Hollywood’ plus the gaming industry) also has some responsibility with the normalisation of violence and shooting as a way of ‘resolving’ many things.

The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of statistics. Summary to date for 2017:

  • Total number of incidents: 27,811
  • Number of deaths: 6,878
  • Number of injuries: 13,500
  • Mass shootings: 154
  • Defensive use: 939
  • Unintentional shooting: 915

It is spread across the country where there are people, but looks to be worst in the east:

Daily averages:

  • Incidents: 170 per day
  • Number of deaths: 42 per day
  • Number of injuries: 82 per day
  • Mass shootings: nearly 1 per day
  • Defensive use: 5 per day
  • Unintentional shooting: 5 per day

It is not just a law and order problem, it is also a societal problem.

Locking criminals up doesn’t solve the problem – United States incarceration rate

In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population.

While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

This rate has climbed dramatically:

The US gun lobby seems to remain stronger than the public safety lobby.

The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world at about 88.8 per 100 citizens.

This is not a problem that will be easily solved. It is sad but inevitable that politicians will be included amongst the targets.

Kids forced to spend time with abusers

Newshub reports:  Kids forced to spend time with abusers, damning Family Court report says

An independent anti-violence group has released a damning report on the Family Court system.

More than 600 women spoke out in the report, compiled by lobby group Backbone Collective, with more than half saying their experience of abuse wasn’t believed or responded to.

It found abuse victims are more fearful for own and their children’s safety after turning to the court, and co-author Deborah Mackenzie says the process is so draining it affects their health.

“Women talked about having anxiety, PTSD, being suicidal, miscarrying pregnancies, not being able to sleep, having eating disorders – all as a result of being stuck in the Family Court for many, many years.”

Respondents also reported being forced into mediations and children were in some cases pushed to reluctantly spend time with their abusers, the report says.

There appears to be a lot of work needed in sorting out how violence, domestic abuse and abuse of children is dealt with.

The Backbone Collective is a national coalition of survivors of Violence Against Women in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We need to call out to each other – the survivors – the women who have the words and understanding to make sense of the Violence Against Women problem.  WE can do this.  We can create a new backdrop to the way Violence Against Women is responded to. Together we can make sure that the dominant voice being heard is that of the survivors rather than the abusers…Let’s turn up the volume so the deaf ears hear us

But in April  Family court strikes back at the Backbone Collective

The Principal Family Court judge has refuted criticisms of the court made by a group of women known as the Backbone Collective, set up by a domestic abuse survivor.

The women claimed they were re-victimised by court process, that the court was not open to public or media scrutiny, and that their complaints had been brushed off.

The Backbone Collective submitted 160 questions to the Government, demanding to know why the system was letting them down.

But Family Court Judge Laurence Ryan disregarded their allegations as “premised on erroneous or flawed interpretations” of the court’s legal framework, or as having been dealt with by Parliament already.

He said that he would not respond in the way the collective sought because “combative debate that pits the judiciary against those who rely on the court’s help” would not improve outcomes.

He highlighted that the womens’ “anecdotal evidence” was a small fraction of about 60,000 applications lodged with the court each year.

The Backbone Collective called the court out for minimising allegations of family violence during periods where parenting access was being considered.

“We are not entering into combative debate as Judge Ryan suggests,” it said in a statement. “We are providing a safe way for women to tell those in authority how the system responds to them when they experience violence and abuse. We thought the Family Court would want to know that currently many women feel they are put in more danger when the Family Court is involved.”

“Surely when systems aren’t working well and safely those in charge want to know how to fix it?”

However, Ryan said the court had “mechanisms” to prevent parents who had been in violent relationships from meeting during this process.

Some of the collective had said they felt legislation meant the rights of abusive fathers trumped the safety of their children.

“Many of the questions addressed to this office relate to matters either already being actively considered by Parliament around family violence, or which have been dealt with by Parliament relatively recently,” he said.

Ryan disputed three of the collective’s broad claims.

On the court’s alleged secrecy, he noted that “more and more” court decisions were available online and that “many” of its proceedings had been reported publicly since law changes in 2004 and 2008.

In response to allegations of absent independent monitoring, Ryan said that all of the court’s decisions were open to appeal – and that judicial conduct was held accountable through an independent complaints body.

“This is the safety valve inherent in the New Zealand justice system,” he said.

Dealing with family violence will always be difficult and imperfect, but improvements should always be sought.

Ryan admitted that the court was not a perfect solution for everyone: “Not all people who are enduring broken, painful or damaged relationships and who come to court seeking resolution or justice will go away satisfied,” he said.

Societal and law enforcement attitudes to family violence have changed significantly in the last forty years in New Zealand, but rates of violence are still terrible so much more needs to be done.

See Family violence response guides launched

Trump: standing up to hate and intolerance

Doing what a president needs to do – speaking against hate and intolerance, and against violence.

Politico: Trump in tweet: Portland attack ‘unacceptable’

President Donald Trump on Monday morning condemned the attacks in Portland, Oregon, where two people were killed after trying to intervene as a man delivered an anti-Muslim rant directed at two women on a train.

The tweet was sent after Trump arrived to give remarks at the Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day.

On Saturday, three men were allegedly attacked after they tried to stop a suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, from verbally disparaging the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

 

Dudley family want manslaughter charges

After a Coroner’s Inquiry found that the primary cause of Stephen Dudley’s death was the brutal and unprovoked assault on him, his family is calling for manslaughter

RNZ: Dudley family seek manslaughter charges

The family of a West Auckland teenager who died after being attacked on a rugby pitch will seek manslaughter charges against his schoolmates, based on a new coroner’s report.

A coroner’s report found Stephen had an underlying heart problem and died when the stress of the assault induced a heart attack.

The 15-year-old had just finished rugby training when a teammate picked a fight. The teammate’s older brother then joined in, laying one hard punch to Stephen’s throat and more to his body.

Stephen collapsed on the field and despite CPR attempts by emergency services, he died in hospital less than two hours later.

The two brothers were charged with manslaughter but the charges were downgraded to assault after there was not enough evidence to connect the assault to the heart attack.

The boys were then discharged without conviction and with permanent name suppression.

However, coroner Gordon Matenga has accepted crown pathologist Paul Morrow’s evidence that the assault was the most significant factor leading to the heart attack.

The Dudley family said the coroner’s findings were vindicating but bittersweet.

The family felt robbed by their son’s premature death and wanted justice, their spokesperson Ruth Money said.

“We believe the appropriate charge is manslaughter, certainly against the eldest brother, who was very large when you compare the size of him and Stephen.”

“It was a very violent, very physical assault… that’s been backed up by the coroner’s findings.”

The family’s lawyer, Nikki Pender, said they were writing to the solicitor-general to seek manslaughter charges against the two brothers.

“Stephen was happy and healthy one minute, the physical assualt happens, and he collapses.”

I had wondered if it was possible to have new charges as it has already been dealt with by the Court. You can’t be tried for the same offence twice if there was a legal outcome of the first trial. Apparently it is possible.

There was no risk of double jeopardy – where someone cannot be tried for the same offence more than once – because the brothers were previously charged with assault, not manslaughter, Ms Pender said.

But one of the attacker’s lawyers claims too much uncertainty.

But the lawyer for one of the brothers, Ron Mansfield, said there was too much uncertainty over what was the key factor in Stephen’s death and a new trial was unlikely.

“We’re dealing with a criminal standard when looking at the culpability of a crime – the coroner’s not.”

“He’s looking for the cause of death… They are quite distinct.”

Assessing criminal conduct had already been done by people at a very senior level, involving specialists, Mr Mansfield said.

“The outcome was just and fair.”

It was wrong to see the brothers as villains, he said.

Many people, myself included, disagree that the brothers were not villians. They may not have intended to kill Dudley, but they recklessly attacked him and any normal person would know that that sort of thuggery could lead to grave consequences.