Scientists are preparing to do a microscopic study of the Las Vegas gunman’s brain, but whatever they find, if anything, likely won’t be what led him to kill 58 people in the worst mass shooting in modern US history, experts said.
Stephen Paddock’s brain is being sent to Stanford University for a months-long examination after a visual inspection during an autopsy found no abnormalities, Las Vegas authorities said.
Doctors will perform multiple forensic analyses, including an exam of the 64-year-old’s brain tissue to find any possible neurological problems.
The brain will arrive in California soon, and Stanford has been instructed to spare no expense for the work, The New York Times reported.
It will be further dissected to determine if Paddock suffered from health problems such as strokes, blood vessel diseases, tumors, some types of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, degenerative disorders, physical trauma and infections.
Dr Hannes Vogel, Stanford University Medical Center’s director of neuropathology, would not discuss the procedure with The Associated Press and referred questions to officials in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. They also refused to provide details.
Dr Vogel told The Times that he will leave nothing overlooked to put to rest much of the speculation on Paddock’s health as investigators struggle to identify a motive for the shooting.
The examination will come about a month after Paddock unleashed more than a thousand bullets through the windows of a 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel into a crowd below attending an outdoor country music festival.
After killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more, Paddock took his own life with a shot through his mouth, police say.
Investigators working around the clock remain frustrated by a lack of clues that would point to his motive. Authorities have resorted to putting up billboards in southern Nevada seeking tips and now the intensive brain study that medical experts say likely won’t yield definitive answers.
If a disease is found, experts say it would be false science to conclude it caused or perhaps even contributed to the massacre, even if that explanation would ease the minds of investigators and the world at large.
“There’s a difference between association and causality, and just because you have anything, doesn’t mean it does anything,” said Brian Peterson, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners and chief coroner of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County.
The microscopic study is not a standard practice but is regularly used as needed. Families sometimes request such a detailed examination to better understand their own genetic risks.
Mr Peterson said it’s also common in high-profile cases such as Paddock’s, where so much is riding on the results that all forensic options must be exhausted.
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