Las Vegas Metro Police Lt. William Matchko describes why he moved Paddock’s body - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Las Vegas Metro Police Lt. William Matchko describes why he moved Paddock’s body

LAS VEGAS — Last week the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released more police statements pursuant to the court-ordered release of documents related to the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas massacre.

One of the released statements was the transcription of the tape-recorded interview that was conducted on October 3, 2017 by LVMPD Detective C. Jex of the Force Investigation Team with then Sgt. William Matchko. Matchko has since been promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Since the release of Matchko’s statement, multiple social media sites have once again promoted wild conspiracy theories that are misrepresentations and utter distortions of the facts, this time as related by Matchko during his interview. I will address those later in this article.

On December 10, 2017 the Baltimore Post-Examiner published, Stephen Paddock’s body was moved prior to the arrival of crime scene investigators.”

In that story, a police source with knowledge of the investigation told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that Paddock’s body was rolled over by police in the room after being ordered to do so by a commander for the purpose of locating any identification on Paddock’s body. The source stated that the Command Post and the Counterterrorism Center wanted the identification and a photograph of Stephen Paddock’s body.

As you will see later from Matchko’s statement, once again, the Baltimore Post-Examiner’s police sources have been proven to be correct.

Also in that story, we didn’t know at that point was whether photographs and or video were taken of Paddock’s body in an unaltered position as he was found in the room upon entry and were there any photographs and video taken during the process of rolling over his body. Also, were the photographs that were leaked to the press showing Paddock’s body stretched out on the floor lying on his back, photographs taken before his body was moved or after it was rolled back over.

It is now 2019 and we still have heard nothing from Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the head of the LVMPD, as to what police personnel released crime scene photographs to the press, thus compromising the criminal investigation of the worst mass shooting in modern American history and the biggest homicide investigation in the history of the LVMPD itself.

When the LVMPD final criminal investigative report on the Las Vegas Massacre was released in August they did include some narrative of Matchko’s interview, but not the actual transcript.

As I have reported in several stories for the Baltimore Post-Examiner, that final police report contained several false and misleading statements. I always want to review the actual interviews and documents for anything, just to corroborate what is written.

Sgt. William Matchko

Excerpts from Sgt. William Matchko’s recorded statement on October 3, 2017

Matchko: As I was getting off on Russell I could hear and as I’m pulling into the west valet of Mandalay Bay, I could hear, reports that a security guard had been shot inside and it was conflicting stories whether it was on the 29th or the 32nd floor. I’m familiar with the Mandalay Bay cause I used to work security there. So I proceed across the casino floor with my AR [rifle]. So when I turned the corner there was a group of officers on the elevator getting ready to go up. So I jumped on the elevator with them. It was probably like five or six officers.

Matchko: Based on the fact that they said it was either the 28th or 29th floor that’s where the guy, the security officer been shot, I told him to take us to where the initial reports and it was the closer location. So we got off on that floor and we began clearing the floor and we’re looking, we’re listening for the gunfire. And we didn’t hear anything and by the time we got down a couple of the hallways, there was no indication of a shooting happening. There was nothing in the hallway, there were no people screaming, there was nothing going on. So I figured we were probably on the wrong floor. I believe I asked another security guard “What floor did the security guard get shot? Where is he at?” And they said they had already taken him off the property or they already got him out, but it was the 32nd floor.

Matchko: I heard another team was in the vicinity, like they were on the 31st or 32nd floor and they were making there way up. So I took the team that I had on the 28th floor. We got into the stairwell and we went up the stairwell to the 32nd floor. So when we got off we started making our way down one of the wings looking for the gunfire, again, and when we got to the elevator core I could see another group of officers in the suspect’s wing, probably about a ¼ of the way down. And when we got to that point I could see a security guard. Manager was standing about 20 yards down the hallway and I actually used to work with him. And I saw him, he had his gun out and I asked him, “What’s going on down there?”

[The manager Matchko is referring to was Mandalay Bay Security Operations Manager Anthony Sottile, who was on the 32nd floor for several minutes along with two armed security bike patrol officers as Paddock’s gunfire was ongoing].

Matchko: So I was relaying a message to him and then I asked him if they had a [police] sergeant down there, and they said, no, there wasn’t. And when you looked down the hallway you could see the debris from gunfire what – what apparent gunfire down the hallway. So I made it up to where the team was at and they were probably about ¼ of the way down the hall. And I asked them what was going on. There was a lot of random people there I don’t remember exactly who was there at that time. So there’s probably – probably about five or six of them there and they were on both sides of the hallway. One guy was proned out in the middle of the hallway. I told that guy, “Get the fuck – get to the side because if the guy starts shooting again, we don’t want to be getting hit.”

Matchko: At that time I could look down the hallway and I could see the room service cart. The room service cart was completely out of place. There was just something weird about it and the closer you got you could see that there’s wires hanging off the food service cart and it was just arranged in a manner that made me think that it was probably a booby-trap bomb or something like that, there was gonna be trip wire down there.   So I guess at that point I was more concerned about the cart than the door. And making sure that no officers crossed over that cart. [No bomb technicians were called]. So by the time we got up to about the halfway point of the hallway that’s when Levi Hancock and Sean O’Donnell showed up from SWAT. And as I’m listening on the radio there’s a million other things going on. There’s all the carnage but then there’s also reports of other active shooters. And I hadn’t heard any gunfire, but the security supervisor told me that the security guard just got pulled away, so the gunfire here had just happened before I got up there.

Matchko: So now the concern is, is this going to be a barricade or are we going to treat this as an active shooter and go in there right now? Third concern is this a bomb on this cart? When we walk by this are we gonna trip wire and is everybody gonna die. So Sgt. Bitsko at about that same time came up on the radio and he I think was on the 31st floor and he was making way his down the 31st floor to head toward the stairwell. So him and I are kind of trying to coordinate back and forth. What we’re gonna do. I knew he was moved down, and they had a [ballistic] shield. We didn’t have a shield in our group. We had multiple rifles. At about one point, that’s when Levi and Sean showed up. When they showed up I knew Bitsko was down there and I told Levi, I said, “Hey, look, go back to the elevators, go downstairs, meet up with Bitsko.” I was like, “I don’t want you guys going past the cart, I don’t want past the cart. Go back down, walk the floor under and come up the stairwell by the suite so you’re past the cart.” So Levi took off and O’Donnell stayed with us and covered down on the hallway. A couple of seconds later two of the SWAT sniper guys showed up, and they proned out in the hallway and were trained on the door.

Matchko: So we’re slowly making our progress up towards the food service cart. At the same time, Bitsko had gotten to the stairwell with his team. And he was on the radio and you could hear the radio traffic between him and I and he’s like, “We’re gonna move for, we’re at the stairwell.” There was one point in the whole time that I switched channels and I think it went over to Northeast. And I was relaying all the information because I couldn’t get across the radio. I was relaying all my information to the Northeast dispatcher. I told her she needed to go over to the Convention Center and let then know what was going on. Lt. Huddler [SWAT commander] was coming on the radio and asking if we were trying to come up with a plan as to what we were going to do as far as making entry. Bitsko wanted to come up, I told him to stay back and, “Stay out of the stairwell,” because I wanted him to wait for Levi to get there. Then once Levi got there, we would come up with a plan once they got in place to get him down because now the main concern is those guys – those- the guys that I’m with don’t have their radios on or can’t hear their radios. [Communications was a big problem that night].

Matchko: They want to come where all of our guns are trained on that doorway. So there’s a serious blue on blue [friendly fire] issue right there. So I’m trying to prevent these guys from shooting each other the best I can. So Levi gets down there and him and Bitsko are talking and they – I don’t know if they came across the radio or what we did but we decided we’re going to make entry. We’re going to put the charge on the door. Once the charge went off on the door we’re going to see if the guy starts shooting at us and we’re going to see what happened. So, I told the guys that I was with, I said, “Look, when he blows this door off the fire alarms going to go off and maybe the sprinklers, and people are going to come out of their room.” That’s my biggest, I didn’t know if the guy was going to start shooting at us, but I was like, “Just be prepared for people to come out of the sides.” I don’t know if this guy has accomplices in other rooms that’ll come out and shoot us anyway because there’s 12 doors probably between us. So I was like, “Look, civilians are going to come out when this charge goes off. If it looks like an innocent and they’re not involved just, you know, we got to grab them, we got to run them back to the elevator.” [How do you look at someone and make a determination that they are not involved? Was everyone who was taken out of those rooms on the 32nd floor vetted to verify their identity? I saw no mention of this in the LVMPD final report].

Matchko: So the charge goes off, the fire alarm goes off, everything turns into fucking pandemonium. People start coming out and we’re running them out and we get all the people back. And we waited. So we waited a few seconds because we’re like, all right, is this guy going to shoot at us, is a bomb going to go off, what’s going to happen? And nothing happened. This is one point in my life that I really wish we had a flashbang and I don’t know if Levi had one or not, but I didn’t obviously have a flashbang because I would have – if we could have thrown one in there would be great. So we waited and, you know, this is a high stress situation, so I don’t know, maybe a minute, ballpark. Levi and Bitsko, we decided, okay, they’re going to make entry, we’re going to cover the hallway, we’re going to watch the hallway. So they came up, Levi came up, made entry into the room. O’Donnell left from our position ran down the hallway with Levi and joined him and then the rest of Bitsko’s team started to make entry into the room.

Matchko: Our team in the hallway moved, well moved forward because now we know that the food service cart didn’t blow up so that was a plus. [Is that how you handle a suspected IED?]. Once they got into the room a bottleneck happened because it was probably like six guys trying to get into this room. I guess when Levi, what I surmise is that when Levi made entry into the room with O’Donnell, they saw the suspect laying there. They called that out, “Suspect down,” and I had not heard any gunfire at this time. They said, “We have one down, there’s a second door.” The bottleneck happened at the door so it kind of prevented the rest of us from moving forward so we’re – but we’re still watching the back of the hall. They go in, they say, “We’re going to blow this other door.” As they walk into the room, mind you on the radio there’s a million other active shooters being called out in all these other hotels.

Matchko: The thought is, is if we could stop this guy from whatever he’s doing because I thought that he was watching us. I thought that he was going to blow us up. I said, “If we can stop this guy. If we have to go in there and he fires off a couple of rounds at us at least he can’t rain down hellfire from that room anymore.” So we had to make entry, I mean it really wasn’t a question or not, if we could wait or not. It was exigent.

[This sounds like the same crap Lombardo was shoveling during his November 2017 interview on KLAS-TV. Exigent, really! Paddock stopped firing at 10:16 p.m. The suite was breached at 11:20 p.m. That suite should have been breached or at least attempted to be breached by coward cop Hendrex who remained on the 31st floor with his armed contingent as people were being slaughtered and did nothing. After the gunfire stopped and LVMPD officers arrived on the 32nd floor, they should have stormed that room. How can the police say they were concerned that Paddock would open fire again and or be reloading, as Lombardo said, yet they waited over an hour to breach the room? That narrative wore itself out a long time ago].

Matchko: They go in, they put the charge on the second door and that probably was about, if I had to guess, 15, 20 seconds after the initial entry. So they put the second charge on the door. They blow the door. I hear the second explosion. Now the fire alarm goes off again and I hear the (unintelligible). I hear what sounded like a burst of fire, but it was very muffled. It sounded like two or three rounds went off. I’m down there I’m trying to make my way through the room. I’m like, okay, I was like, “Did the suspect shoot at us? Did we shoot the suspect, are we in a gunfight, what’s going on,” and they were all pretty calm? They all seemed a little embarrassed. I guess one of – O’Donnell or one of them had a negligent or accidental discharge. They fired off a couple of rounds, I don’t even know where they went, but they’re like, the guys 405 [suicide] and I was like, “Okay.” [A body on the floor, a gun near the body, blood around the face. I don’t care how it looks there is no way you can determine at that time that it’s a suicide and not a homicide. A death investigation will result in the proper cause. That’s why you have homicide detectives, who by the way were not allowed in the suite]. Then they said, “The rooms clear.” When they came out of the room I was like, all right, there’s a million other active shooters being called out right now.

Matchko: I said, “Look, you guys are going to stay here with me. We’re going to work on Intel gathering and we’re going to work on, preserve the scene.” I told the rest of the guys to get your shit and go to the New York New York because the New York New York had two active shooters called in at the same time at that very moment. So I go in there. I could see the suspect laying on the ground and the blood had started to coagulate by his head. So it appears that based on the time, I didn’t think it looked like there’s no way that the gunshots that we did from the time frame based on the blood coagulating like they [SWAT] shot him. Like when I looked at him I immediately thought to myself this guy has been dead for more than the time we’ve been in the room. Not a long time but it looked like he killed himself. There was a pistol next to his head too. So the guys left.

Matchko: My phone rings and it’s Hendrickson from I think he’s Counterterrorism or TASS. But it was him and he was with Capt. Tomiano. I’m trying to preserve the crime scene and they’re like, “Hey, you need to go in there and you need to be looking for his ID and look for anything that we can get to gather intelligence under exigent circumstances to prevent the rest of these shooters. We need to figure out the rest of these shooters are because we’re going to try to go up on wiretaps on the phones.”  So he’s like, “Go in there, get any phones that you can. Get the phone numbers off of them and start figuring it out.”  So, I’m like, “Look,” – I go “I get it’s – exigent circumstances and I’m trying to preserve the crime scene at the same time.” And Capt. Tomiano was in the background, he’s like, “Per Captain Tomiano,” – he’s like, “You need to start digging through stuff and figure out what’s going on in there.” And, “You need to start sending it down to us, so we can get wiretap – so we can start doing the PEN’s [pen registers, dialed number recorders], emergency PEN’s on the phone numbers that you retrieve.”      

Matchko: So I found a couple of dropped phones on the counter, but they were obviously, you know, throw down phones and not the suspect’s real phone. And I said, “Look, well I don’t know if he has his phone on him, I’m going to have to move him,” and they’re like, “Well you got to move him, you got to look for the phone, you got to find it.”  So we go through the room, Trzpis and I. Conover stayed out in, did security on the room. Trzpis and I went through the room, we started digging through looking for, actionable intelligence under our exigent circumstances and we found some computers, but we couldn’t get into them. We found a lot of ID cards and like players cards and all that stuff.  So we’re taking pictures of it all and sending it down to Hendrikson at the CP [Command Post]. We sent all the phone numbers that we had. Then we found his main phone – well no, we rolled him – so I grabbed him by the arm. I picked the suspect up on his side. The blood came out of his mouth, went out next to his face. Trzpis checked him for phones. He still had a gun underneath him. I rolled him back. He was obviously dead because he had a bullet in his head. [How was that determined?]. So I put him back down, he went back in the same position but now the blood on the side of his face is from me rolling him. He had nothing on him. We later found his real phone and a bunch of the phone calls that he had made or had come from was from Marilou girl or whatever his name is, or her name is. At the time still reports of more shooters were coming in. I’m collecting pictures of everything I can to send to Hendrickson and Capt. Tomiano [I would like to see those including all the phone records]. We’re sending it all, me and Trzpis are both sending it all downstairs. Somebody came, I think Levi came back. [Why?] I think Levi came back when I had first went into the room. And he took some pictures. I go – and then I asked him, I was like, “What do you have to do?” [Good question]. He’s like, “I have to go in and take pictures to give to,” his boss. [How many people want pictures of the crime scene? No wonder they were leaked to the press. Another thing, Capt. Tomiano who was directing Matchko to take photographs and disturb the crime scene, also is the captain over the SWAT team, so why was he sending Levi back in to take photographs? Something doesn’t sound right here]. So I said, “Fine, I’ll go in there with you.” So I went in there with him. They took the pictures and him – think it was him and O’Donnell together and then they left. But I think that was before I, -me and Trzpis had started moving all the stuff around. I sent all the stuff down to Hendrickson and Capt. Tomaino. We got out of the room.

Matchko: We were concerned because there was about 15 suitcases in there and I thought that there was going to be bombs in there. I sent to Hendrickson, I said, “Hey, look, you need to send a bomb dog up here.” And he’s like, “I’m working on it but there’s nothing,” – you know, “There’s nothing available.” [Wow!] I said, “You need to send a bomb dog up here because there’s just.” I think if you took a look at the crime scene pictures of what was in that room, all guns and the breathing apparatus and the weird boxes and the power sources and the power tools and the wires and the cables. I’m walking around and I’m thinking to myself that there’s probably explosives in there somewhere, so I was very cognizant of that and trying to get that dog up there. But the dog never showed up. [Why not?]. So I went back outside the room. Conover and Trzpis and the guy from Robbery and I, talked to a lot of people. Sent them a lot of information and then waited. Hendrickson kept updating me on the phone, asking if the ATF had been up there. [How about sending the damn crime scene investigators up there.] And now a few hours went by since I walked out of the room. He said that the ATF went over to South Central to get briefed and then they were going to come up and interview me. So, a few hours had passed and the FIT [Force Investigation Team, not homicide detectives] guys, Sgt MacDonald and a couple ATF guys showed up and the ARMOR guy showed up upstairs. Then eventually they relieved me and then I went back to South Central.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing excerpts from Matchko’s recorded interview, it is clear that the crime scene was compromised, both the rooms and Paddock’s body. That does not fall on the shoulders of Matchko. He was ordered to do what he did by Capt. Tomiano.

In moving Paddock’s body, rolling him onto his side and then back again, there is no way to determine what the unaltered position of Paddock’s body was prior to moving.

Matchko did not indicate in his interview that he photographed and or video recorded Paddock’s body prior to disturbing it. That could very easily have been done with the use of a cellphone. As a result, any areas of blood on Paddock’s body and clothing would also have been compromised.

Disturbing any crime scene is a major violation of standard police protocol and established crime scene investigation practices.

That being said, considering the magnitude of what was occurring on the night of October 1, 2017, you would have to take that into account.

The police needed to get as much intelligence and information from Paddock’s suite as fast as they could.

You can conduct a search without a search warrant in exigent circumstances and considering the scenario that night in Las Vegas and what was occurring, the active shooter calls that were coming in, I would have to agree with Tomiano’s decision.

Getting wiretaps and dialed number recorders up on telephone numbers that were obtained from Paddock’s room, as quickly as possible, was the correct course of action that night.

Active shooter calls don’t necessarily mean that there were actual shooters. The police were responding to those type of calls for over two hours. No shooters were found at any of the locations and there were no firefights with terrorists in Las Vegas as some would want you to believe.

Conspiracy theorists who I usually don’t bother with have said that based on Matchko’s statement the LVMPD knew of multiple shooters who they planned to wiretap that night. Not so. Nothing in Matchko’s statement supports that unless you twist his words around.

New Las Vegas shooting statements challenge LVMPD single shooter narrative. That also is not true. New LVMPD documents say Las Vegas Massacre had multiple shooters. Also not true.

Twisting words to fit a false narrative is not journalism, it’s sheer nonsense.

I don’t know what’s worse. Those who report such crap or the minions that follow them.

Paddock’s body was not Paddock, it was a dummy. The only dummy was the dummy that stated Paddock’s body was a dummy and started that crap.

SWAT shot Paddock and covered it up. Why? Whoever shot Paddock had that happened would have been a hero. Lombardo would have had him on every news show in the country. He would have retired, wrote a book and gotten rich. More crap.

ISIS terrorists were in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. Where were they? Who did they kill? What happened to the bodies? Why didn’t they fight to the death with the police? Crap.

Paddock was radicalized by ISIS. Sure and then he killed himself.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. That’s a credible source.

Enough of this nonsense.

Covering up for police misconduct, that I don’t agree with and should not be tolerated by any police administrator, but for that to happen you have to have integrity and honor at the top in the first place.

Police departments are not private clubs. They serve the public and should be held accountable to the community they serve.

Lombardo’s lack of transparency since the Massacre, his lies and misrepresentations only added fuel to the flames of conspiracies.

The Las Vegas media gave Lombardo a free pass when they had the opportunity to challenge him and call him out on his lies during interviews and failed to do so.

Stephen Paddock was the only person in Mandalay Bay Hotel Rooms 32-134 and 32-135 during the gunfire and after the gunfire stopped. Nobody exited any one of those rooms prior to the police reaching the door. Paddock killed himself.

The Las Vegas Massacre should never have happened.

It was foreseeable and preventable.

Both the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and MGM Resorts International knew that a threat from a sniper attack from an elevated position in a hotel high-rise posed a threat prior to October 1, 2017, yet no measures were in place to stop such a threat should it occur.

And the sad fact is, it did occur, and lives were lost.

Yes, Paddock committed the deed, however, there were armed personnel, both LVMPD police officers and Mandalay Bay Hotel security personnel within feet of his suite who should have intervened during his shooting spree and failed to do so.

 

 

 

    

 

 





About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.
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