Las Vegas, NV – Police released a trove of documents related to the investigation into Stephen Paddock on Wednesday, many of which indicated that the Las Vegas shooter may have held sovereign citizen beliefs.
Paddock murdered 58 people, and injured 700 more, when he opened fire on concertgoers from his sniper’s nest at the Mandalay Bay on Oct. 1, 2017.
Investigators held a press conference to announce the release of the documents, and said there was no evidence that definitively pinpointed Paddock’s motive for the mass killing, The Guardian reported.
According to the documents, many people who encountered Paddock prior to the massacre said that he expressed anti-government beliefs, and spoke of conspiracies.
One woman told investigators that she overheard Paddock speaking with a friend in a diner just days before the shooting.
She said that the pair discussed the Waco siege and the 25th anniversary of the standoff at Ruby Ridge, both of which ignited anti-government militia activity in the 1990s.
They also spoke about gold-fringed American flags inside courtrooms, and argued that they were not “real flags,” the woman said, according to The Guardian.
“According to sovereign citizen pseudo-legal mythology, if the US flag displayed in a state or federal courtroom has fringe on it, then that court has no jurisdiction over you, so you can’t be tried for any crime,” said J.J. MacNab, a writer and expert regarding anti-government extremism.
Because the martial law flag also has gold fringe, sovereign citizens have concluded that any flag with gold fringe is also a martial law flag, MacNab explained.
“They reason that a courtroom is defined by the flag it flied, and since the standard US flag doesn’t have fringe, you are entering a foreign country when you walk into a courtroom,” she wrote, “one that is bound by Maritime Admiralty Law, and not the US Code.”
According to The American Legion, fringe was officially added to the nation’s flag for “all regiments of the Army” in 1895.
“The courts have deemed without merit and frivolous, lawsuits that contend that the gold fringe adorning the flag conferred Admiralty/Maritime jurisdiction,” The American Legion noted. “It is considered that fringe is used as an honorable enrichment only.”
The recently released documents also included a statement from a man who said he met Paddock less than a month before the massacre, WPXI reported.
The man told investigators that he and Paddock met outside a sporting goods store in Las Vegas after the man posted an ad online and offered to sell schematics to convert semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons.
The man told investigators that Paddock believed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used Hurricane Katrina as a “dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and...confiscating guns,” WPXI reported.
Paddock said that somebody needed to do something to make Americans “wake up” and arm themselves, the man told investigators.