Before he was nabbed in July 1960 for robbing banks in Arizona, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock Jr. was described as a “big-hearted” family man, operating a filling station while raising four boys.
But when the Federal Bureau of Investigation finally caught up with him, neighbors, according to The Tucson Daily Citizen archives, had one concern: his oldest son Steve.
“We’re trying to keep Steve from knowing his father is held as a bank robber,” neighbor Eva Price told the paper. “I hardly know the family, but Steve is a nice boy.”
Fifty-seven years after that newspaper article, authorities said Stephen Craig Paddock opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort, killing at least 58 and injuring more than 500.
Before the younger Paddock perpetrated the largest mass shooting in modern American history, his father’s name would be printed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list for a series of bank robberies carried out in the Phoenix-area.
An archived newspaper article from the Arizona Republic on Oct. 6, 1960 described Benjamin Hoskins Paddock as a three-time bank robber. The paper detailed how the 34-year-old attempted to run an agent over with his 1960 Pontiac before having a bullet shot through his window.
After the bullet pierced his vehicle, he surrendered to authorities. A loaded revolver, a police-style baton, a box of ammunition and $2,975 in cash were found in the car.
He was accused of stealing approximately $25,000 from three Phoenix banks, although his criminal record dated back to 1946, according to the Arizona Republic archives.
A judge sentenced Benjamin Hoskins Paddock to 20 years in prison on Jan. 5, 1961. Nearly eight years later, on Dec. 31, 1968, the convicted bank robber escaped the Federal Correctional Institution in La Tuna, Texas, according to a Tucson Daily Citizen archive.
After his escape, the FBI named Benjamin Hoskins Paddock one of their "10 most wanted criminals," and warned that he was a "diagnosed psychopath" with suicidal tenancies. The warrant said Benjamin Hoskins Paddock carried a firearm and was considered "armed and dangerous."
"Paddock is known as 'Chrome Dome' because of a practice of completely shaving his head," the FBI said. "The agency reported he is an avid bridge player and smokes both cigars and cigarettes. They said he eats expensive steak dinners and is a frequent gambler," a June 11, 1969, article by the Arizona Republic read.
The FBI would not again recapture Benjamin Hoskins Paddock until September 1978, when they arrested him in Oregon. After robbing a San Francisco bank following his escape, Benjamin Haskins Paddock moved to the Eugene-Springfield area, became a bingo parlor manager and evaded capture by changing his appearance and going by the name Bruce Werner Ericksen.
Decades after his crimes ended, his sons would be forced to cope with a massacre committed by their brother.
Eric Paddock of Orlando, Florida, said he had "no idea" why his 64-year-old brother committed the shooting.
“Mars just fell into the earth,” he told NBC News. “We’re completely dumbfounded.”
Stephen Craig Paddock lived in Mesquite, Nevada, approximately 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, where he is believed to have lived with his girlfriend.
Public records show Stephen Paddock lived a relatively transient life, moving to 27 different residences between California, Texas and Nevada, and like his father, he also had a penchant for gambling.
On multiple occasions, Stephen Paddock gambled more than $10,000 per day — and in some cases amounts greater than $20,000 and $30,000 — at Las Vegas casinos, according to an NBC News source who read the suspect's Multiple Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) and a casino gaming executive.
Stephen Paddock killed himself before police could reach him. Benjamin Hoskins Paddock died in 1998.