It's been nine months since the mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas in which Stephon Paddock killed 58 people and injured nearly 600 more with rifles modified for fully automatic fire.
In that time, we've had virtually no explanation or even a hint for why he did it, but we may have one now.
Multiple witnesses who spoke to authorities during their long investigation say Paddock ranted about government conspiracies from FEMA camps to the Waco siege.
The man said in their conversations Paddock ranted about a popular right-wing conspiracy theory that claims FEMA’s actions after Hurricane Katrina were “a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and … confiscating guns.”
“Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” Paddock said, according to the man. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.” [...]
In a handwritten statement to police, a woman said she overheard a conversation Paddock had with another man days before the shooting. She said he was ranting about the armed standoffs at Waco and Ruby Ridge, both key moments in the radicalization of many right-wing extremists. “At the time, I just thought ‘strange guys’ and I wanted to leave,” she said.
We may never know exactly why Stephon Paddock did what he did, but this is very first clue we've seen. Putting two and two together -- adding his arsenal of weapons to his belief in government conspiracies -- gives us a fairly clear picture of his state of mind.
Just before I began typing this, there was another mass shooting at a high school in Texas.
This is America.