The mystery over mass shooter Stephen Paddock deepened Thursday with news he rented rooms at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park in August, two months before he opened fire at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
Paddock reserved two rooms on the park side of the hotel with a clear view of the outdoor festival, but he never showed up, according to a law enforcement source, who asked for anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to publicly disclose the details.
The reservations covered the four-day event, which drew hundreds of thousands of music fans, including former President Barack Obama’s daughters Malia and Sasha, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The disclosure fueled speculation that Paddock may have been considering other targets before settling on Las Vegas Sunday night, where he fatally shot 58 people and wounded nearly 500 others.
The Boston Globe, quoting anonymous sources, said Paddock may have scouted Fenway Park and other Boston venues. And Las Vegas police say Paddock rented hotel rooms near a concert featuring Chance the Rapper in Las Vegas about a week before the mass shooting, which occurred farther down the strip.
Investigators say Paddock’s motive still eludes them as they piece together his movements and track down his purchases of dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
“Anything that would indicate this individual’s trigger point and would cause him to do such harm, we haven’t understood it yet,” Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. He said Paddock had been “living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood.”
The booking of the Blackstone rooms was first reported by TMZ and later confirmed to the Tribune by law enforcement sources. The Blackstone, in a statement, said a Stephen Paddock reserved rooms but no one by that name stayed there.
From those rooms, Paddock would have had a clear view of the entrance to Lollapalooza and a major exit across a bridge.
At least three stages would have been in front of him, one to the west of Columbus Drive and two to the east. Two more stages would have been to his right and two to his left, according to a layout of the festival grounds. The entrances and exit would have been clogged with festival-goers.
Lollapalooza has a daily draw of more than 100,000 people.
The festival arrived in Grant Park in 2005 when it was retooled as a destination festival by co-founders Perry Farrell and the William Morris Agency with new partners, Texas–based Capital Sports Entertainment (now C3 Presents).
It was staged for two days and drew more than 65,000 people. It expanded to three days in 2006 and four days in 2016. In recent years it has consistently sold out its 100,000-a-day capacity in advance.
In Boston, Paddock reportedly made online searches of Fenway Park and the Boston Center for the Arts, both of which host summer festivals. The Boston Globe said it was unclear if Paddock was ever in the city or when he conducted the searches.
A week before the mass shooting, Paddock rented several rooms through Airbnb at The Ogden hotel in downtown Las Vegas for Sept. 22-24, the dates for the “Life is Beautiful” music festival that featured Chance the Rapper.
The next Sunday, Paddock broke out two windows in a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and fired hundreds of rounds.
“Was he doing pre-surveillance?” Lombardo asked. “We don’t know yet.”
Chicago Tribune reporter William Lee contributed to this report.