Vegas cops describe 12 minutes of hell in gunman’s sniper lair

Las Vegas cops described in harrowing detail Sunday the tense 12 minutes they spent trying to breach mass murderer Stephen Paddock’s sniper lair — and the paranoia that gripped them once they were inside.

Smoke hung thick inside the room — tinged with the smell of spent gunpowder and sporadically illuminated by a blinking fire-alarm illumination — when policemen first stepped into Mandalay Bay’s Room 32 -1 35, where Paddock , now dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, expended the previous three days constructing his sniper’s nest, according to the policemen in an interview with CBS News’ “6 0 Minutes.”

The sight — and the appear impossibility that a lone human in his 60 s could have caused such carnage — merely intensified the officers’ paranoia as they worked to clear the hazy hotel room, they said.

“It was still very much in my brain there’s 50 other dudes in here somewhere, ” Detective Matthew Donaldson remembered. “You know, we were still clearing that room, the draperies, moving the draperies. I wanted to make sure someone wasn’t conceal between the windows and the curtains.”

Stephen Paddock in an undated photo. ( Eric Paddock via AP)

They had reason to fear Paddock had help, though investigators afterwards ascertained he acted alone: The first person to reach the room, Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos, was met with a hail of gunfire when he had approached the door just minutes before.

By the time Paddock was done shooting at Campos, who escaped with a leg trauma, the door to his room looked like “Swiss cheese, ” Officer David Newton told “6 0 Minutes.”

Newton and other policemen coming from the floor below struggled to open a stairwell door that Paddock had jammed shut with metal shims and screws.

Then they saw his splintered door room and a nearby room-service cart with wires hanging off it, inspiring anxieties it was booby-trapped. It was later revealed that Paddock had installed a camera on the cart to watch for anyone coming to stop him.

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