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Las Vegas shooter’s father was a bank robber — and on the FBI’s Most Wanted list


Stephen Paddock’s father was rarely around.

Following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Eric Paddock said that he and his brother, the suspected Las Vegas gunman, did not see their father much during their childhood. Their dad, a bank robber and con man, was in and out of prison — and often on the run.

“We didn’t grow up under his influence,” Eric Paddock told reporters outside his home in Orlando on Monday.

“I was born on the run,” he added, noting that “my dad was about to be arrested for robbing banks.”

Benjamin Hoskins Paddock escaped from federal prison in 1969, earning a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

He was described in the FBI’s wanted poster as “psychopathic’’ with suicidal tendencies. According to news accounts, he was not captured until 1978, when he was nabbed while running a bingo parlor in Oregon.

Officials confirmed that he was the father of Stephen Paddock, who authorities said opened fire from the window of a 32nd-floor hotel room overlooking a concert on the Las Vegas Strip, where 22,000 people had gathered for a three-day country music festival. At least 58 people were killed, including an off-duty police officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, authorities said. More than 500 others, including two on-duty officers, were injured.

After the shooting, he was found dead by Las Vegas SWAT officers in his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Here's what you need to know about the gunman. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post, Photo: Ethan Miller/The Washington Post)

The carnage when shooters take aim from above

More than five decades earlier, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock was in the same town, running from suspected crimes of his own.

According to newspaper clippings from the summer of 1960, FBI agents had been searching for Paddock, who was accused of robbing banks in Arizona. When agents approached him in Las Vegas in late July of that year, he jumped into his car and tried to run one of them down, the newspaper reported.

He surrendered after an FBI agent fired through his windshield.

“It was a harrowing experience,” the agent, John T. Reilly, said at the time.

Reilly said he aimed at Paddock “to save my own life,” adding that the fugitive’s car stopped about a foot away from him  — “so fast that it [the car] was rocking.”

Benjamin Paddock had already served time behind bars in the 1940s and 1950s, according to articles in the Arizona Republic.

After his capture by the FBI, he was convicted in 1961 of bank robbery and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. But on Feb. 3, 1969, he escaped.

At the time, Stephen Paddock would have been 15 years old. Eric was half Stephen’s age and said Monday that they had two other brothers, Bruce and Patrick.

Benjamin Paddock died in recent years, Eric Paddock said, adding that it was news to him: He said he grew up thinking his father was dead.

At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Benjamin Paddock used a host of aliases, and was also known as “Chromedome” and “Old Baldy,” according to his FBI Most Wanted alert, which bore J. Edgar Hoover’s signature.

The Arizona Republic reported in July 1960 that Paddock was “known as a hot rod racer” and shaved his head so he would look like actor Yul Brynner. In addition to bank robbery and escape, his rap sheet included auto theft and a confidence scam.

“He was a larger-than-life kind of outlaw thing-y,” Eric Paddock said.

The FBI noted in its 1969 bulletin that Paddock was an “avid bridge player.” His son, Stephen, was known as a high-stakes gambler, The Post reported Monday.

The elder Paddock remained on the FBI’s Most Wanted list until 1977, when he was removed for reasons that aren’t clear. The FBI said he was “removed from the list when it was felt he no longer fit the ‘Top Ten’ criteria.”

Barbara Liston in Orlando contributed to this report.

More reading:

How the Las Vegas Strip shooting unfolded

Las Vegas shooting attack kills at least 58, more than 500 people injured

A closer look at the carnage when shooters take aim from above

50 years of mass shootings