A lawyer representing victims of the Las Vegas shooting slammed a "hard to believe" statement put out by MGM Resorts that noted numerous interactions between hotel staff and the gunman -- all while police doubled down on the decision to withhold details from the public nearly four months after the grisly massacre.
Hotel staff at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino “had contact with [Stephen] Paddock or entered his suite more than 10 times over the course of his stay, including the three days leading up to October 1” MGM Resorts, the hotel owner, admitted last week in a statement obtained by Fox News, adding all the interactions with Paddock “were normal in nature.”
“Their little paragraph of ‘we have normal interaction’ leaves a lot out,” Michelle Simpson Tuegel, an attorney representing several victims of the massacre, told Fox News. “I would like to know what they were classifying or defining as ‘normal behavior.’"
Tuegel said her clients, such as 21-year-old college student Paige Gasper, who was left with shattered ribs and a lacerated liver, are healing and feel “better,” but there is still a “long, rough road ahead.”
As for MGM’s statement, though, Tuegel said she's looking to find out “what else these employees have to say about what they saw and heard in the days leading up to the shooting, and what they may have failed to see,” whether possibly due to negligence or a lack of proper training from hotel management.
Paddock – with a huge stash of firearms in his 32nd-floor suite – gunned down 58 people across the street who were attending a country music festival on Oct. 1. He wounded hundreds more.
“Why didn’t someone say something when he brought all these bags [with weapons] up?” Tuegel asked, adding it's “hard to believe the amount of ammunition and weapons in the room and no one saw or picked up on anything.”
Some portions of the 32nd floor are now being used again to accommodate an “increased influx of guests”, but there are still no plans to rent out Paddock’s rooms, which remain closed, Debra DeShong, MGM’s senior vice president of corporate communications and industry affairs, told Fox News in an e-mail.
"I would like to know what they were classifying or defining as 'normal behavior.'"
“MGM Resorts is focused on supporting the health and welfare of our guests,” the company said in the statement put out last week. “Importantly, as it relates to the terrible tragedy on Oct. 1, there were numerous interactions with Stephen Paddock every day at the resort, including a room service delivery and a call with housekeeping on Oct. 1, all of which were normal in nature. As a result of these interactions, there was no need to conduct a welfare check.”
Partially in response to the Las Vegas massacre, several resorts and hotels nationwide have begun instituting mandatory room checks after a certain period of time -- regardless of whether a guest has hung a "do not disturb" sign on the door.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which has been notoriously tight-lipped about the shooting, doubled down this week in refusing to provide any new information about the attack or give an update on the investigation – a move likely to infuriate members of the public wondering why officials have said so little in the months after the massacre when so many questions remain.
Lawyers representing the department have filed a 13-page response to a lawsuit from several media companies seeking to unseal records related to the investigation, KSNV reported, claiming the department's secrecy is necessary.
“Despite the death of Stephen Paddock, there remains an active criminal investigation,” one of the police department’s attorneys, Jackie Nichols, wrote in the response, according to KSNV.
The response claimed privacy is needed “during the pre-indictment stage of an investigation,” but did not say if an indictment is looming. Paddock, who killed himself after the shooting, has been identified as the lone gunman; however, it's unclear if anyone else aided his plot.
But police department lawyers, in the response, wrote “access would reveal investigative techniques used by law enforcement.”
Nichols did not respond to numerous requests from Fox News for comment. Both the Ballard Spahr law firm -- which is representing KSNV, The Associated Press and other news organizations in the lawsuit -- and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told Fox News it would not comment on the litigation. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Tuesday.
Dan Kulin, a spokesperson for the Clark County coroner, also would not provide an update on the investigation into Paddock’s brain, which was sent to Stanford University months ago.
The FBI said in late December the agency probably wouldn't brief the public about the motive of the attack until their report is released sometime before the tragedy’s first anniversary.
The lack of updates from the Las Vegas Police and the FBI about the shooting has led to daily bashing of both agencies on social media, and appears to be playing some role in stoking conspiracy theories as information-starved members of the public continue to play the role of amateur detective.
Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo railed against some of his critics in October, saying that “conspiracy theories and thinking that we are trying to hide stuff or are conspiring together to hide stuff is ridiculous.”
But since then, investigators working the case routinely have denied interviews, leaving speculation and rumors swirling.
“102 Days ... and counting. We want answers. We need answers. We deserve answers,” one Twitter user wrote Thursday.
“And lastly with 58 dead & hundreds injured and the blood of so many innocent concert-goers soaking the ground of Las Vegas, why has it been so consistently been difficult to get straight answers? why the secrecy? uncertainty? shadiness? who is hiding what, and why? #VegasStrong” said another this week.