Law enforcement officials told USA Today Thursday morning that Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas mass shooter, had booked two rooms in a hotel overlooking Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival — an event that draws nearly half a million to the city's main waterfront park.
Las Vegas authorities said earlier this week that Paddock had targeted other city events — even attempting to book a suite of condominium rooms overlooking the Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Vegas — but this is the first time police have said Paddock considered events outside of his home state.
Paddock booked two rooms at the Blackstone Hotel, which overlooks Lollapalooza's main stage, on the south end of Grant Park, just off Lake Michigan. He booked one room for August 1st and one for August 3rd, checking out of both rooms August 6th.
Chicago authorities say that Las Vegas officials told them of Paddock's Lollapalooza plan.
“We are aware of the media reports and have been in communication with our federal partners,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. “As you saw earlier this week the city conducts extensive public safety planning and training around major events, in close coordination with our law enforcement partners, to ensure public safety."
Thousands of people attend the yearly four day festival, including me, your faithful reporter. Most of the concerts are conducted out in the open, at two large stages on either end of Chicago's massive waterfront park, Grant Park. This year, headliners were very similar to the ones who played the Life is Beautiful festival; both Chance the Rapper and Lorde appeared, along with Muse, Blink-182, and the Killers.
Paddock would have had a difficult time attacking Lolla, however. He'd have had to either drive or fly his arsenal across several states, though his plan to create a snipers nest would likely have been the same. Security at Lollapalooza is notoriously tight, though, especially with celebrity guests like former First Daughter Malia Obama on the scene.
In past years, Lolla has had armed FBI agents patrolling inside and outside the festival in golf carts. But that's not to say that a shooter, firing down onto the crowd from above, as in Vegas, wouldn't have caused mass casualties. The festival has only two entrances during the day (others open at night, after the concerts end), and is surrounded by heavy metal walls, meant to keep line jumpers out, but which could just as easily have trapped concert goers in the shooter's line of fire.
Even a small attack could have caused mass panic, but Paddock, for some reason, declined to follow through with his plan.
This latest bit of information, of course, does lend credence to the theory that Paddock meticulously planned his attack -— perhaps for years — and clearly premeditated his mass murder, a shocking development uncommon among historical mass shooters.