Sometimes we see him as other hotel guests would have seen him: as the tall gambler intent on the video poker machine across the casino floor, or as the customer standing in line in front of you at the gift shop, buying snacks, or as the guy you briefly glance at as he waits for you to get off the elevator — polite, unhurried, unmemorable.
Sometimes we see him as the employees would have seen him, as the casually dressed V.I.P. with the many suitcases who jokes with bellhops, chats with valets and gives out tips along with handshakes. And sometimes we see him as only the surveillance cameras saw him — riding the elevator alone.
Within a few days, he would use the arsenal he had moved upstairs in those suitcases to shoot and kill 58 people from his 32nd-floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
These were Stephen Paddock’s final movements in the days before he opened fire from his hotel suite on Oct. 1: an apparently relaxed solo vacation that, as surveillance footage obtained by The New York Times from MGM Resorts makes clear, was actually the methodically planned prelude to a massacre.
Rarely are investigators or the public able to track the preparations of a mass gunman in such molecular detail. Yet for all the material the footage offers about the who, the what, the where, the when and the how, we are no closer to the why.
Watching the footage, nearly six months later, is a kind of compulsive ghost-hunting. In the antiseptic stare of…