Appeals to Las Vegas Gunman Urged Him to Forego Mass Shooting

Recently uncovered letters to Stephen Paddock, before he executed the most lethal mass shooting in modern U.S. history, suggest that a former convict friend of his may have had prior knowledge of the tragedy before it took place.

A photo taken the next day of the Las Vegas massacre showed windows shattered by Stephen Paddock which pointed to Room 32-135 at Mandalay Bay, from which Paddock had access to stockpiled automatic weapons to kill 60 people in the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in US history. (Photo: John Locher/AP)

“I can get somebody for you who can help you,” the friend, Jim Nixon, wrote in a letter dated May 27, 2017. “Please, do not go shooting or hurting people who did nothing to you. I am concerned about the way you are talking and think you are going to do something really bad. Steve, please, please don’t do what I think you are going to do.”

On October 1, 2017, Paddock opened fire from his Mandalay Bay hotel room at the crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest festival. The 64-year-old lethally shot 60 concertgoers before killing himself.

Ten letters sent by Nixon to Paddock were released this week by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in response to a request from the Las Vegas Review-Journal publication. Dated between 2013 and 2017, the handwritten notes were reportedly found in late November 2017 by the new owners of an abandoned office building in Mesquite, Texas.

In a letter dated June 1, 2017, Nixon asked Paddock: “Please don’t go on any shooting rampage like some fool.” Another letter inquired: “What kind of killing are you going to do?” and ‘Why concerts?”

Another letter pleaded: “Steve, you said that I was the one who kept you from doing something bad for the past four years. Why not wait until I get back and you and I will sit down and discuss it?”

Paddock’s arsenal of weapons is the subject of many references, including one in which Nixon asked him to “call ATF to request clearance on the guns,” referring to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Late last month, the FBI released documents indicating that Paddock held a grudge against several casinos to which he lost “thousands” in the months leading up to the massacre. The documents included summaries of the letters from Nixon, but the information was redacted by the FBI, citing confidential sources and an invasion of privacy.

Las Vegas police released the letters to the R-J on Thursday with no redactions. The last of the letters was dated the day before Nixon was to return to prison for 15 months in June 2017, for violating his probation. In the letter, he instructed Paddock to write to him in Arkansas, where he would be serving his sentence.

“Look buddy I can get you some help,” Nixon wrote. “You need to talk to someone who knows how to deal with dreams. Don’t listen to what the damn dreams tell you. I will help you all I can.”

What Nixon Has to Say Now

In an interview conducted this week by the Review-Journal, Nixon declared that no one in law enforcement contacted him after the massacre — despite how much information he seemed to have about Paddock’s nefarious plans.

Nixon, 75 — a disabled Vietnam War veteran who said he once served prison time for tax fraud — stated he had met Paddock more than 10 years before the shooting. Paddock stayed at Nixon’s homes in California, and the two would fish at Lake Mead after Nixon moved to Las Vegas.

“He did what he did and I feel awful I couldn’t have stopped him,” Nixon told the newspaper. “I didn’t know he was going to do what he did.”

Nixon’s letters propose a different story, however.