Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old man police say is alone responsible for the bloodbath at the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday night, lived in Tucson as a boy while his father was robbing banks.
When he was 7 years old, and winning plaudits for his musical ability, his father was getting arrested by the FBI in Las Vegas for a string of Phoenix bank robberies that year, according to local newspaper clips at the time.
In May 1960, the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson named young Stephen Paddock, who was born in 1953, as a winner in a regional piano contest.
A year earlier, he was part of a choral group doing a rendition of “Sing a Song of Sixpence” at a ceremony marking the end of the academic year at Arizona Sunshine School on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Until Monday, his father’s background was more colorful, according to various local press accounts in the Arizona Republic and the Tucson Daily Citizen at the time.
On July 28, 1960, the FBI tracked Patrick Benjamin Paddock from downtown Phoenix to downtown Las Vegas, where they arrested the man the Bureau listed on its Ten Most Wanted list and who went by the nicknames “Big Daddy” and “Chromedome.” Then 34, the fugitive bank robber didn’t have a hair on his head.
Two days earlier, Paddock had robbed $4,627 from a Valley National Bank branch on East McDowell Road in Phoenix. Paddock had already knocked over two other branches of the same bank on West Van Buren Street in early 1959 and 1960, grabbing close to $30,000. In today’s dollars, he’d stolen a total of more than a quarter million.
This time, the bank manager followed him to a market, when he switched cars. The bank manager then called police and described the car that was heading to Vegas.
There, the FBI staked out the motel where Paddock was staying. When he tried to drive off, he tried to run agents over. They shot out a window, and he surrendered.
Awaiting extradition to Phoenix, Paddock broke out of jail, he later told a judge.
But he denied the bank robbery, telling the same judge, “I swear to God I never had anything to do with it” and noting he didn’t know he was being followed “until the windshield of my car disintegrated.”
Paddock was ultimately convicted for one of the bank robberies and sent to a federal prison for 20 years.
For him, it was old hat. He had done a four-year stint in an Illinois prison after being convicted for running a con game in 1953 and an eight-year stretch in 1946 for another con game and auto larceny.
At the time, the family lived on the west side of Tucson. Press accounts say Paddock lived there with his wife, Stephen, and his three younger children, who ranged in age from 6 months to 3 years.
A neighbor across the street described Paddock's arrest as a terrible thing for the kids, and their father as "such a nice man," attentive to his wife and kind to his children. The neighbor said she took Steve swimming so he wouldn't have to hear the charges being leveled at his dad.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Paddock earned the nickname “Big Daddy” because he volunteered in Tucson to help what the papers then called “wayward children,” but he and his brother-in-law ran a nightclub by the same name on North First Street. He was described at the time as a garbage disposal unit and dishwasher salesman.
But Paddock and the inside of a cell did not get along well. Eight years after breaking out of FBI custody in a Las Vegas jail, Paddock broke out La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution near El Paso, Texas, in late 1968. Known then under one of his many aliases, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, he got out of confinement and onto the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
The feds described the large Wisconsin native as armed, dangerous, arrogant, egotistical, and a diagnosed psychopath. He liked to gamble, race cars, and eat steaks. He had suicidal tendencies, the FBI told the Texas papers.
He died years ago, Las Vegas suicide-shooter Stephen Paddock’s youngest brother, Eric, told reporters Monday.