Retired hotelier and corporate pilot Don Judy was surprised in 2013 when he went to welcome Stephen Paddock, his new neighbor at their community near Melbourne on the Space Coast.
Right away, he said, Paddock told him he was a professional gambler who traveled back and forth to Las Vegas, as well as a real-estate speculator. Handing Judy a house key, he asked him to check on his home periodically.
“That was strange because that was only our first meeting,” Judy told The Post on Monday morning.
Authorities Monday named Paddock, 64, as the man who let loose with automatic weapons from a Las Vegas hotel tower room, killing more than 50 people and injuring hundreds more at a country music concert.Monday’s death toll of at least 50 in Las Vegas tops the 49 killed in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, including the gunman, Omar Mateen of Fort Pierce.
Paddock most recently was living in a Sun City retirement community in Mesquite, Nev., about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, near the Arizona and Utah state lines.
Eric Paddock broke down in tears Monday morning as he talked about his brother to a reporter for Orlando television station WFTV-Channel 9.
“There’s nothing I can say. My brother did this. It’s like he shot us. I couldn’t be more dumbfounded,” he said.
Eric Paddock said he last heard from his brother after Hurricane Irma. He said his brother texted to make sure his family was OK. He said he found out about the mass shooting when Las Vegas police called him.
Don Judy, who now volunteers at the Brevard Zoo, said Paddock told him he’d bought the home for his mother, who lived in Orlando, and planned to “flip” it after he’d bought another home for her in the same neighborhood.
Property records show Paddock paid about $246,000 in April 2013 for the 1,773-square–foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home on a quarter-acre lot on Sansome Circle in Heritage Isle, a 55-plus community off Wickham Road in Viera, a community west of Melbourne in Brevard County. The neighborhood is about 120 miles north of West Palm Beach.
Records show Paddock sold the house in May 2015 for about $235,000. It’s currently valued at $252,680.
Judy said Paddock “never said anything about guns” and that the only time Judy saw anything close to anger was when the neighborhood management firm refused to give Paddock a permanent-access pass to swap around the rental cars he’d bring in.
“He said, ‘Dang it. They won’t give me a pass.’ ”
He also said that when Paddock first gave him the house key, he told him, “‘Listen. I’ve bought all this new stuff. Shop-Vac, ladders, tools. If you need anything, feel free to come over.’ I thought, ‘Wow. The guy’s very trusting.’ “
He said he never did any poking around in the home: “If I had, under the circumstances, I would admit to it.”
Judy said Paddock never discussed his fortunes or indicated if he was in financial distress. He did tell Judy’s wife once that he’d won $20,000 on an online gambling site.
He said Marilou Danley, the girlfriend Las Vegas police have described as a “person of interest” in the shooting, “would come to visit or come down with him.” But, Judy said, “she was very quiet. To herself.” He also said Paddock’s brother Eric sometimes would ride his motorcycle over from Orlando.
Don Judy said that when Paddock sold the house, Judy returned his key to him and little was said. He said, that, because Paddock is long gone, no police were at the Sansome Circle home Monday morning; “just reporters.”
For more than 24 years before Paddock bought the Viera house in 2013, he “worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin from 1985 until 1988,” spokesman Bill Phelps said Monday from Maryland. “We’re cooperating with authorities to answer questions they may have about Mr. Paddock and his time with the company.” Phelps did not say if Paddock worked at the firm’s Space Coast operations.
A check of online court records showed no arrests or lawsuits involving Stephen Paddock in Brevard County between 2013 and 2015.
Mick Anderson, who bought the home from Paddock, said Monday the sale was “all done through Realtors and brokers. I never met the guy.”
Anderson, who works for a national in-home health care firm, said the house was “practically brand new” and he was told Paddock had spent only about five stretches in it in the years he’d owned it.
He said he did notice during a showing that the home had only “two bar stools at the bar and a bed in the master bedroom. That was probably it. They were taken out by the time we closed on the house.”
In fact, he said, Paddock’s name didn’t even register when a television reporter called early Monday from the front gate.
“They said, ‘Do you know Stephen Paddock?’ I said, ‘I don’t.’ They said, ‘Well, he’s the guy who sold you this house.’”
It was only then, he said, he remembered seeing the name on the contract.
Former Palm Beach County resident Jules Rothus retired to Viera in 2013, around the same time Stephen Paddock did. He lived across the street.
“Everybody’s retired here. So you stop and talk to everybody,” Rothus said Monday morning. “Most people are very friendly. But he wouldn’t wave to anybody.”
Rothus, 69, who retired in 2000 after years as an electronic technician at BellSouth in Lake Worth, said Paddock appeared to live in the house only for about three months of the two or so years he owned it. Rothus said he never saw anyone else at the home.
“I saw him around the house, doing some pickup around the yard and stuff,” Rothus said. “He was so quiet, it was unbelievable. He wouldn’t even look at you.”
Rothus said he did come to an open house when Paddock put the home up for sale. He said the only conversation he had was to say he was surprised to see a “beautiful” washer and dryer.
“I said, ‘You’re just going to let this go with the house?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’”
Rothus took a moment of reflection, and told a reporter, “This is terrible. This is terrible.”
Stephen Paddock is believed to have fired at the crowd from an upper-story of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, across Interstate 15 from the in venue. Jason Aldean, the country star who was performing when the gunfire broke out, played at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre near West Palm Beach on Aug. 19. Jake Owen, who also played on the bill at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, hails from Vero Beach. Neither was injured.
President Trump Monday declared the shooting “an act of pure evil” and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to console those who lost family members in the shootings and those who were wounded. He ordered all U.S. flags flown at half-staff.