The longtime girlfriend of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock has returned to the U.S., where she was met by FBI agents investigating her lover’s massacre of 59 people at a country music concert.
Marilou Danley, 62, was picked up by federal authorities at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from the Philippines, where she was visiting family while her live-in boyfriend sprayed a country music festival with bullets Sunday night.
She said Wednesday she knew nothing of what he planned to do.
'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," Danley said in a statement read by her attorney outside FBI headquarters in Los Angeles.
Fifty-nine people were killed and 489 were injured, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told a press conference Wednesday night.
FBI Special Agent In Charge Aaron Rouse declined to say where Danley was staying. "Giving away a location of a citizen is not in our best interests," he said.
He also declined to talk about a possible motive. "We like to deal in facts. And that's what we're going to do," he said. "Believe me, we want to know why."
Danley’s family said Paddock had surprised her with a "cheap ticket" to Manila and told her to go home for a visit — presumably getting her out of the way so Paddock could carry out his dark rampage.
“She was sent away,” one of her sisters told an Australian news station, “so that she will not be there to interfere with what he’s planning.”
Danley arrived in the Southeast Asian country one week before Paddock pumped round after round from a collection of modified assault weapons into a crowd of about 22,000 concertgoers, authorities said.
The killings constitute the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
At Wednesday night's press briefing, Sheriff Lombardo said a security guard had approached Paddock's hotel room at Mandalay Bay after Paddock began blasting from an upper-floor window.
Paddock fired 200 rounds through the room's door, striking the guard in the leg, Lombardo said. Despite being wounded, the security officer stayed on and helped authorities get guests to safety, the sheriff said.
Lombardo also said Paddock had an escape plan, but didn't elaborate.
One of Danley's sisters said Paddock saved the woman.
“In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life,” a sibling said. “But that won’t be to compensate the 59 people’s lives,” she said.
The sisters asked not to be named, and their faces were blurred by the station.
Paddock had wired $100,000 to the Philippines while Danley was there, according to federal agents. Investigators have identified her as a person of interest, and hoped she could shed light on a motive for Paddock’s deadly acts.
A former boyfriend of one of the sisters told NBC News that Danley had been married twice, once to an Australian boxer and another to an American. Her second marriage lasted 25 years, and she met Paddock while she was still married and working in a casino, her family said.
Adam LeFevre described Danley as “not very confident” and a devout Catholic.
He said Paddock was a high-rolling gambler, often betting thousands of dollars at a time. “He would say, ‘I just dropped 20 grand,’ or ‘I’m up 86 grand.’ He approached it like a business,” LeFevre told the network.
A Starbucks employee in Mesquite, Nev., where the couple lived, said Paddock often treated Danley with contempt.
“He was so rude to her in front of us,” Esperanza Mendoza told the Los Angeles Times. The coffee store is located inside a casino.
“He would glare down at her and say, with a mean attitude, ‘You don’t need my casino card for this. I’m paying for your drink, just like I’m paying for you.’ Then she would softly say, ‘OK,’ and step back behind him,” Mendoza said.
Her sister said Danley loved Paddock. “No one can put the puzzles together. No one except Marilou. Because Steve is not here to talk anymore. Only Marilou can maybe help.”