As 64-year-old Stephen Paddock ruthlessly opened fire on a crowd of unsuspecting concertgoers, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sprang into action. While people tried to get as far away from the bloodshed as possible, a group of officers ran toward the source.
Detectives Matthew Donaldson and Casey Clarkson, SWAT officer Levi Hancock, and Officers Joshua Bitsko and Dave Newton were among the group of men who located Paddock on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and were tasked with getting inside his room.
By the time the officers reached the room, the gunfire had ceased, but they weren’t sure if it was because the shooter was incapacitated, lying in wait, or had fled the suspected hotel room.
“It’s like a deadly game of hide and seek because when you’re the one hiding, you always know where the person that’s looking for you is before they see you,” Bitsko said during an interview on CBS News’s “60 Minutes.”
Hancock fastened an explosive. After retreating to the relative safety of the stairwell, the door blew open, and the makeshift team headed toward its target.
“My initial scan, coming in the room with my rifle is just seein’ — I’m seeing one male down, bleeding from the face,” Donaldson revealed. “He was not a threat. Kept going, kept going, kept going.”
The man he saw was Paddock, and Newton explained that there were “all kinds of tools” and a few phones and laptops in the room. In the week since the shooting, Americans have been grappling with their grief and the uncertainty left by all the questions that remain unanswered.
What, if any, connections did Paddock have to outside organizations? Who, if anyone, knew what he was planning? Why did he choose to murder completely innocent people?
Perhaps more unsettling than all the questions left unanswered, is the one question that has been answered. In one word, Newton answered host Bill Whitaker’s question of what he saw when he entered the room.
“An armory,” he responded.
Newton explained that there were “so many” guns and “stacks and stacks” of magazines in the room.
“Just in suitcases all neatly stacked against pillars, around the room, all stacked up, rifles placed all throughout,” he added. “It just looked like almost a gun store.”
Bitsko added that there were so many guns, the officers were tripping over them and stepping on shell casings that were covering the floor. The gunfire had been so heavy that even though the firing had ended, the officer explained that he could still smell the gunpowder.
Watch the interview below.