Mesquite, Nev. • It’s a quiet little oasis that’s quickly filling up with retirement homes — a place where you can relocate and never be noticed.
Stephen Paddock, 64, moved into a Sun City neighborhood on top of a hill in what many seniors say is a wonderful community.
But it’s hard to find anyone here who knew him. Paddock had lived in Mesquite for less than a year and, apparently, kept to himself.
And then, one day last week, he loaded up his car with rifles and ammo, and slaughtered concertgoers in Las Vegas. Paddock, originally from Florida, then, apparently, turned one of his guns on himself.
In the upscale neighborhood surrounding his house at 1372 Babbling Brook Court, neighbors were horrified that a future killer lived so close.
Kirk and Brenda Holbrook, who live nearby, were taken aback.
In order to leave the cul-de-sac on which Paddock lived, he would have had to drive right by their house.
“It’s very scary to believe it’s this close,” Kirk Holbrook said.
Brenda Holbrook described Mesquite and the Sun City area as a lovely and peaceful community.
“It’s normally quiet,” Brenda said. “Hardly anybody goes up and down our street.”
Another neighbor, Jerry Jenkins, said the massacre of 59 people in Las Vegas is hard to imagine.
“I’m concerned we have people like this living here,” he said.
For several years, Mesquite has ranked among Nevada’s safest cities.
“This is a place where you can leave your doors open at night.” said Vickie Herd, working at the city‘s recreation center. “You’re never threatened.”
Mesquite, with a population of 20,000, is growing by leaps and bounds, Herd explained. Many newcomers are retirees who like the fact that Nevada has no state income tax but lots of sunshine.
Mike Garrett is a new arrival, having moved to the Mojave Desert city a year ago from Washington state.
Mass shootings are nothing new in this country, he said. Paddock could have been from anywhere.
“A lot of things don’t surprise me, anymore,” Garrett said. “I don’t like it, but when something gets into somebody’s head — it happens.”
Amy Patterson relocated to Mesquite from Montana, near where “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski held up in a shack near Lincoln. She’s learned to take these things in stride, she said.
“You know what?” Patterson said. “It could happen anywhere.”