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What can the Las Vegas shooter’s brain tell us about his violent act?

This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock.
This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock.

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Stephen Paddock’s violent actions remain a mystery, but we might be on the verge of finding out more.

The Las Vegas shooter, who killed 59 people at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival last month, killed himself on the night of the attack. But pathologists at Stanford University are trying to salvage some clues to what biologically could have gone wrong with Paddock. As reported by The Bay Area News Group, Las Vegas-based investigators have an agreement with Stanford to keep the details undisclosed. The university lab studies about 250 brains per year. 

Las Vegas authorities so far have not found any warning signs from the shooter leading up to the attack. On a macro level, there haven’t been any signs that could point to Paddock’s behavior. Charles Whitman, the University of Texas shooter, had a malignant brain tumor which was discovered during his autopsy. Whitman climbed the school’s tower in 1966 and killed 13 people with a sawed-off shotgun.

In light of this, scientists are looking at minor changes in Paddock’s brain chemistry by performing microscopic exams. While potential abnormalities would be unable to answer every question, they could inform us about any hereditary traits to look out for, and help create more effective medical therapies.

Larry speaks to forensic experts today to learn more about what Paddock’s brain could reveal.


Kate Termini, Psy. D., a neuropsychologist who specializes in forensic neuropsychology at Fifth Avenue Forensics in New York   

Judy Ho, associate professor of psychology at Pepperdine University; she is also a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist in Manhattan Beach, Calif.; she tweets @DrJudyHo