Las Vegas shooter booked Chicago hotel during Lollapalooza

PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO - Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock had booked a hotel room in Chicago during the hugely-popular Lollapalooza music festival, it emerged Thursday, raising the prospect he had been planning a large-scale attack for months.

The Blackstone hotel, with rooms facing a downtown city park where the festival was held, said a man of the same name had a reservation there in August - just as hundreds of thousands were attending the four-day outdoor concert series, including Malia Obama, daughter of the former president.

"There was a reservation under the name Stephen Paddock," Blackstone spokeswoman Emmy Carragher told AFP. "We have not confirmed whether that is the same Stephen Paddock, and we're working with the authorities."

59, more than 500 wounded in Las Vegas shooting

  • Las Vegas Boulevard remains closed near the mass shooing site at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017.
  • A sign reading "Blood Donations Needed" is seen in Las Vegas Boulevard after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017.
  • Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017.
  • The W Las Vegas displays a message for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman speaks during a prayer vigil, in honor of those affected by the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of Las Vegas City Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017.
  • Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, Tiffany Tyler and the Rev. William McCurdy hold candles during a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall in response to Sunday's mass shooting on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • A man holds a program after an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017.
  • People mourn during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017.
  • A woman prays during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017.
  • A man mourns during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017.
  • A woman mourns during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017.
  • People attend a candlelight vigil at the University of Las Vegas student union October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017.
  • People attend a candlelight vigil at the University of Las Vegas student union October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017.
  • Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Mourners light candles during a vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • At least two people were killed and 24 were hospitalised after a shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, a local hospital spokeswoman said, and police said one suspect was down.
  • The spokeswoman for the University Medical Center hospital said 14 of the wounded were in a critical condition. All had suffered gunshot wounds, she said.
  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said on Twitter: "Confirming that one suspect is down. This is an active investigation. Again, please do not head down to the Strip at this time."
  • It was not immediately clear whether the suspect was killed or injured. Officers were due to give more information shortly.
  • Police had earlier said they were investigating reports of an active shooter near the Mandalay Bay Casino.
  • The New York Times reported that the shooting appeared to be at a country music festival and that police were investigating reports of shooting at other venues on the city’s famous strip.
  • Police made no immediate comment about that on social media.
  • One Twitter user posted that the casino hotel was on lockdown, while another, citing police scanners, said two gunmen who had shot at a bodyguard and police were on the 32nd floor.
  • Video clips posted online showed what sounded like automatic weapons as panicked concertgoers fled, dropped to the ground screaming.
  • Witnesses heard numerous gunshots at the hotel, where police tactical teams were searching for the attacker, according to reports on CNN and in the New York Times.
  • Flights at Mccarran International Airport were temporarily halted after the reported shooting, the airport said on Twitter.

Paddock did not check in for his reservation, she said.

US media, citing multiple anonymous law enforcement sources, reported that searches of the Las Vegas gunman's communications and electronic equipment found that he had scouted locations in both Chicago and Boston.

NBC News reported that he had specifically researched the Lollapalooza festival.

He had also conducted internet searches for the Fenway Park baseball stadium and the Boston Center for the Arts, a small performance venue, the Boston Globe newspaper reported.

The revelations raised the chilling prospect that Paddock had been planning an attack for at least two months before he launched Sunday's assault on a country music festival in Las Vegas, raining bullets on the crowd from a nearby hotel tower.

The Chicago hotel's proximity to the outdoor concert stadium suggested a similar scenario to the Las Vegas mass shooting, which killed 58 and injured almost 500.

TIGHT SECURITY FOR MARATHON

The apparent Chicago connection prompted officials to beef up security for a weekend marathon in which more than one million spectators and some 40,000 participants were expected.

"We are constantly revising and asking fundamental questions," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, adding that the marathon would proceed as planned.

The police department added more than 1,000 officers to its weekend security deployment.

"One of the things that we're doing is we're putting a significantly larger number of undercover officers," said Anthony Riccio, chief of Chicago police's organised crime bureau.

"They're going to be intermingled with the crowd. They're going to be around the runners," Riccio said.

Authorities have been at a loss as to why and how Paddock - a 64-year-old gambler and retired accountant with no criminal history - hauled a vast arsenal of weapons to a Las Vegas hotel and launched an assault, before taking his own life.

Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said the scale of the preparations - including weapons, ammunition and electronics he stockpiled - raise questions about Paddock potentially having had an accomplice, but none has been identified.

Lollapalooza did not respond to requests for comment.

The historic Blackstone has housed heads of state including former president Jimmy Carter, and artists such as Nat King Cole and Rudolph Valentino.

One side of the hotel faces Grant Park, an expansive space where the Lollapalooza festival was held.

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