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Former FBI profiler: Las Vegas shooter intended to kill as many people as possible

October 9, 2017

Mary Ellen O'Toole

George Mason University’s Mary Ellen O’Toole called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history “an incredibly well-planned-out crime” and likened the atrocity committed by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas to the deadly shooting at the University of Texas more than 50 years ago.

“In this case, his intention – based on the planning, based on the weapons, based on the victim pool that he chose – was to accomplish maximum lethality, which means kill as many as he could,” O’Toole, a renowned former FBI criminal profiler now serving as the director of George Mason’s Forensic Science Program, said in an interview with CBS News.

Paddock killed 58 people and wounded hundreds after opening fire on defenseless concertgoers from his 32nd-floor hotel room.

O’Toole said Paddock differs from previous mass shooters because of his age, 64, and because he had no previously known criminal record or ties with terrorist organizations.

“At age 64, I would expect that he would have figured out a way to handle life’s stresses, disappointments and frustrations,” O’Toole said. “Yet we have him at 64 carrying out an egregious crime like this.”

O’Toole has spent her career studying criminal minds, having worked such high-profile cases like the Unabomber, the Natalee Holloway disappearance and the Columbine High School shootings before retiring from the FBI in 2009.

She said the latest tragedy was eerily similar to the Aug. 1, 1966, incident at the University of Texas Tower, where ex-Marine sharpshooter Charles Whitman loaded a cache of weapons before firing on unsuspecting victims below to kill 17 people and wound 30 others.

In both cases, O’Toole said, the killers had meticulously planned their heinous acts from high vantage points before following through in a composed manner.

“It wasn’t a snap incident where [Paddock] just decided to go out and act in such an impulsive way,” O’Toole said. “So he’s thought about this probably dating back months – if not years – before he decided to take action.”

Mary Ellen O’Toole can be reached at or 703-993-5059.

For more information, contact John Hollis at 703-993-8781 or

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George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 35,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.