One minute into Vegas massacre police detective observed Paddock with rifle firing from window - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

One minute into Vegas massacre police detective observed Paddock with rifle firing from window

LAS VEGAS  — Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Detective Stephen Balonek saw gunman Stephen Paddock firing from his 32nd floor Mandalay Bay suite.

Balonek states in his LVMPD Officer’s Report dated October 9, 2017, that he was working overtime on October 1, 2017, and was adjacent to the Route 91 Harvest music festival at the intersection of Giles and Mandalay Bay Road.

He states: “At approximately 2208 hours, the main act had taken stage and was performing when we heard 3-4 loud bangs which initially was thought to be part of the show. Approximately 30-45 seconds later, we heard more of the same sound and determined it to be gunfire. The sounds appeared to be muffled and not normal. The bursts lasted approximately 3 to 7 seconds in length coming from what sounded like a fully automatic rifle. The rounds were hitting the ground close to our location, which was directly in the middle of the street adjacent to the back of the stage.”

I ran back to my vehicle and retrieved my binoculars and began scanning the hotel for the shooter. Approximately one minute into the shooting I observed a figure in a hotel room on the north side standing in a shooting platform and appeared to be 4-6 feet from the window. The figure was firing the rifle out of his hotel room. I attempted to get on the radio to update the channel and was unsuccessful. I then switched my channel landing on the Northeast and advised the dispatcher of the possible location of the shooter. I also told her that there might be more than one shooter due to the sounds of the rounds changing. We learned later that the shooter was changing his position and direction of fire within the room.”

The LVMPD final criminal investigative report contains a summary of Detective Balonek’s recorded interview that was conducted on October 18, 2017. Just to note, there is no mention in that summary of “approximately one minute into the shooting” and “I attempted to get on the radio to update the channel and was unsuccessful…” as he had stated in his Officer’s Report. I presume that he would have said that in his recorded interview also, but I find it interesting that there is no mention of it in the summary.

From the final police report:

Detective Balonek retrieved his binoculars and scanned the Mandalay Bay tower. Approximately three-quarters of the way up the tower on the far north end, Detective Balonek observed a silhouette of a man in a shooting position, standing about four to six feet back from the window. He saw smoke from the gun but did not see muzzle flashes.

My thoughts

One minute into the massacre a police officer with the use of optics, his binoculars, saw the shooter firing his rifle out of his hotel room.

Paddock continued his firing unimpeded for at least nine more minutes.

SWAT snipers have optics much more powerful than binoculars, backed up with devastating firepower.

LVMPD SWAT snipers were not deployed that night until after Paddock had stopped firing.

They were not on standby.

You may want to revisit two stories that I broke for the Baltimore Post-Examiner.

Our May 4 story, FBI’s elite hostage rescue team and the Las Vegas Police trained for similar mass-shooting scenario years before, and our September 29 story, Exclusive: MGM Resorts International executive knew that a sniper attack from a hotel high-rise posed a threat prior to October 1 massacre.

Fifty-eight dead. Over 400 wounded by gunfire. Hundreds sustained other injuries.



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.


  1. MattBracken says:

    What an inexcusably pathetic lack of foresight by the LV police SWAT.

  2. someguy says:

    So dispatch knew where the shooter was located at 1 min. This mean that dispatch had confirmed the shooters position by two trained observers, one exterior and 2+ interior. SWAT command still staged down the road.


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