In the days immediately following the worst mass shooting in modern American history, in which 58 people were killed and 527 injured by automatic gunfire while listening to music at an outdoor festival on the Las Vegas Strip on 1 October 2017, disreputable web sites like YourNewsWire and NaturalNews.com immediately leapt at the ensuing chaos to push false conspiracy theories.
Police say that the shooting was perpetrated by Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nevada, who opened fire with a modified weapon from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. According to their ongoing investigation, Paddock acted alone. These findings can be easily verified by listening to police radio traffic from the incident, in which officers say they hear gunfire coming from the 32nd floor of the hotel, identify Paddock's room, then burst in, only to find him deceased inside with a large number of firearms.
However, that has not stopped web sites with a less than nodding acquaintance with journalistic integrity from latching on to the mass casualty incident while taking advantage of the chaos and confusion to push conspiracy theories and collect resulting ad revenue. For example, on 2 October 2017, YourNewsWire, a web site that regularly inserts itself into tragedies to push the anti-semitic New World Order conspiracy theory, reported:
The mainstream media narrative about the Las Vegas shooting has been debunked by two explosive videos provided to Your News Wire that confirm there were multiple shooters involved in a co-ordinated attack.
Both videos show gunfire originating from the fourth floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, much lower than the 32nd floor, where the mainstream media is claiming Stephen Paddock, a “lone wolf”, fired on the crowd using an automatic weapon.
The answers are simple. The corporate media, controlled by a small, elite oligarchy, is operating on behalf of the New World Order, attempting to mislead the public into believing their enemies are their friends, and their friends are their enemies.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), which is the lead law enforcement agency handling the investigation of the shooting, found 23 weapons in the hotel room with Paddock after breaching the door. They have determined he modified a semiautomatic rifle to make it shoot continuous rounds like a fully automatic weapon, and then he fired into a concert crowd from his perch in a 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. During a 2 October 2017 press briefing, LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo took time to refute rumors that there was more than one gunman:
I want to emphasize we believe Paddock is solely responsible for this heinous act. We are aware of the rumors outside of the media and also on social media that there was more than one assailant. We have no information or evidence to support that theory, or that rumor. We believe there was only one shooter and that was Stephen Paddock. We are doing a thorough investigation and only want to provide what is accurate to you. We will only give information that we have vetted and know to be true.
The "evidence" provided by YourNewsWire and on other conspiracy sites like ZeroHedge.com is a widely-shared, roughly 35-second blurry YouTube video in which the narrators claims to have captured muzzle flashes coming from a room on the fourth floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The video can be viewed here:
Despite what the narrator says, the video in fact does not show muzzle flashes from a nonexistent shooter on the fourth floor of the hotel. The most obvious evidence supporting this is that none of the windows on the hotel's fourth floor were broken (photographs show that Paddock had knocked out two windows in his suite, from where he had a birds-eye view of the crowd below). Another video tracked down by social media users shows the same light flashing an hour before the shooting started — it can be seen twinkling on the right side of the screen in the below video as country band Big and Rich are singing "God Bless America" earlier in the night:
The irony in this!! I was going through my pics and videos from last night. Approx two hours before the shooting took place @bigandrichofficial led the crowd at @route91harvest in singing God Bless America. Unknowingly..I was panning the crowd and scanned up to Mandalay Bay, simply to show the beauty of where we were and everyone's lights on their phones ?? #bigandrich #godblessamerica #route91harvest #prayfortheworld #prayforvegas #irony #sadness
The second video posted by YourNewsWire as "proof" of a second shooter on the fourth floor appears to have been taken by a cab driver who was near the hotel during the incident — but while gunfire can be heard in her video, no muzzle flashes are in fact visible.
According to police, Paddock fired on the crowd of 22,000 people from room 32135, a large suite in the north of the building. (The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is shaped like a three-sided star, and Paddock's room was situated as far north in the building as possible, while the Route 91 Harvest Festival he attacked was just northeast of the building and across the north-south thoroughfare Las Vegas Boulevard.)
In emergency radio traffic, which can be accessed through the scanner-capturing web site Broadcastify, it is clear that responding officers initially didn't know where the shots were coming from, and were getting reports from witnesses that there may have been more than one shooter. Eventually, however, they were able to pin down the location. One officer can be heard saying:
I'm inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor. I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead — one floor above us.
Another officer seems to debunk the idea that there were muzzle flashes coming from the fourth floor, when he can be heard saying that he's seeing a strobe light flashing on the east wing of the building:
I haven't seen any flashes from Mandalay, but if it is coming from Mandalay there is a strobe light coming from one of those windows on the east side.
There is no evidence to support the claim that there were multiple shooters or that those shooters' muzzle flashes could be seen from the fourth floor of the resort. As we noted, police believe through their investigation that Paddock acted alone during the shooting. The YouTube video presented as evidence for this claim appears to show a strobe light in one of the rooms, as evidenced by footage that seems to show the same light flashing well before the shooting, and the observation by a police officer at the scene who said it was a strobe light.
The fact that police received reports from traumatized witnesses of multiple shooters in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy is not surprising, nor does it offer conclusive proof that there was more than one assailant, said Bill Flores, a retired assistant sheriff with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. He told us:
Right at the beginning [of the shooting] people thought it was fireworks. Then when they realized something horrific was happening and they were in fear, their frame of mind changes and they think, 'Maybe we did hear a second shooter.' Law enforcement officers should follow up on every type of report that comes in.
Furthermore, radio traffic from incident makes it clear police officers were climbing the stairs of the building floor by floor, and it defies logic to believe they would not have heard automatic gunfire coming from the fourth floor, when they clearly heard it coming from Paddock's room.
On 5 October 2017 LVMPD officer Larry Hadfield confirmed to us that per the investigation, Paddock has been identified as the lone shooter:
We investigated. There was one single shooter. That’s official
Police radio traffic from the incident can be heard here: