The picture that is emerging of Steven Paddock, who has been identified as the gunman in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, is of a man that some law enforcement officials increasingly believe had severe mental illness that was likely undiagnosed, sources tell ABC News.
The portrait, gleaned from interviews with hundreds of people interviewed over the past week, is that while Paddock might have been financially successful, he had real difficulty interacting with people. He is described as standoff-ish, disconnected, a man who had difficulty establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships.
ABC News and The Blaze are a little too eager. Their story adds nothing that we didn’t already know. It doesn’t “break the case wide open” unless there is more that isn’t stated in the story. To say he “may have had an undiagnosed mental illness” doesn’t say much. Anyone could reach that conclusion. It’s likely to be wrong.
If this is all they’ve got it’s not enough to justify a conclusion or even to speculate that Paddock had an undiagnosed mental illness. We all know people who have difficulty in their relationships with other people. That alone doesn’t make them mentally ill, and it doesn’t justify speculation. The desperate search for a motive is a little crazy in itself. Evil people do evil things. They don’t have to be mentally ill.
The description of his past behavior more likely indicates personality disorders such as narcissism or border line personality or both. Being too quick to assume mental illness is never warranted because most people who are truly mentally ill don’t commit mass murder. A small minority of mental illnesses may lead to murderous violence, most do not. Occam’s Razor warns against jumping to that conclusion.
The truth is there is evil that lurks in the hearts of some people; when it finally reveals itself it may come as a surprise to people who thought they knew the person. Searching for their motive is a fool’s errand.