The official narrative of the Las Vegas shooting massacre is riddled with inconsistencies and unanswered questions. Regardless of Stephen Paddock’s potential ties to a greater plot, who was this cowardly figure hiding behind automatic gunfire on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel?
With a cache of weapons and ammo in the background, his body was found dead on the floor of his hotel room, but his dead physical carcass doesn’t suffice justice. What were the motivations, impulses, and hidden intentions of this man? What kind of dark emotions fomented in the inner workings of his soul? What lifestyle choices led him to this point of indescribable evil? Who was behind the face of this cold and calculated shooting spree?
Four years earlier, in a court deposition, Stephen Paddock was giving insight into his own depraved state. The 97-page deposition is taken from a civil suit from 2013, when Paddock tried to glean a settlement from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas after he slipped on one of the hotel’s walkways and hurt his leg. Camera footage documented the fall, but he didn’t win the settlement.
In the deposition, Paddock spoke of his lifestyle, how he slept all day, avoided the light of the sun, and gambled through the night. He described himself as the “biggest video poker player in the world.” Night after night he stared into the gambling machines. Year after year, artificial lights glared off his retina. His soul was left void of real human connection, he was disconnected from responsibility, and his mind was severed from reality.
Paddock was well off financially, “wagering up to a million dollars a night,” but he was dying inside, never happy, nor fulfilled, as evidenced by his numbing addiction to high-stakes gambling. At one point in 2006, he admitted to gambling 14 hours a day, 365 days a year. The casinos gave him free stays “95% of the time” because he was such a big spender. No amount of money or freedom from responsibility could satisfy the deepening, darkening hole that was slowly consuming his character.
In the deposition, Paddock arrogantly proclaimed that he had a physician “on retainer.” The physician supplied Valium to Paddock “for anxiousness.” Paddock’s “anxiety” is a symptom of a much greater spiritual void, of a life accountable to none, of a life saturated in addiction, with no real connection to circadian rhythm or other human beings. Paddock slept through the day, was extremely vitamin D deficient, and said he did “not do sun.”
Not only were his root issues avoided and his mental health declining due to lack of sunlight, but the Valium he consumed also caused drastic side effects, including irritable behavior, rage, and aggression. The Valium only exacerbated his deeply-embedded problems, slowly pushing him to the edge. According to Nevada’s prescription drug monitoring database, Paddock was prescribed the Valium in June, and it is hard to know exactly what other mind-altering prescription drugs he was able to obtain illegally. In the deposition, Paddock described his physician: “He’s like on retainer, I call it, I guess. It means I pay a fee yearly … I have good access to him.”
What drives a soul to such evil mania? In these desperate situations, the topic that eludes our thinking is the topic of spiritual health. At the core of Paddock’s actions, slowly cutting away at his character, is a sickness of the soul, a spiritual disconnect. This spiritual decay is pervasive throughout culture and is witnessed in selfish behaviors, addictive, self-consuming materialism, unaccountable narcissism, no remorse, and no repentance. Authentic eye-to-eye connections are lost in the drunkenness of substances and screens. These issues cannot be resolved by a supplement or a mind-altering pill, but must be addressed consciously by every single one of us, as we examine our own hearts and address the deepest parts of our sinful nature.