The gunman who opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas Sunday booked rooms at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel during the run of Lollapalooza two months ago.
The annual music festival, which draws an estimated 100,000 music fans each summer, takes place directly across Michigan Avenue from the Blackstone in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Sources confirmed to NBC 5 Investigates that Stephen Paddock booked two rooms at the Blackstone Aug. 1-3. He reportedly requested adjoining rooms, and asked that those rooms face Grant Park.
But he never showed for the reservation.
Federal law enforcement sources tell NBC News that in addition to Chicago, Paddock also explored Boston’s Fenway Park and the Boston Center for the Arts. It isn’t believed that he booked any hotel rooms in that city.
In the aftermath of the Mandalay Bay massacre, investigators learned that Paddock had rented a high-rise condo in a building that overlooked the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. That event went off without incident just a week before the assault Sunday night.
Along Michigan Avenue today, passersby expressed concerns about the potential targeting of an event in Chicago which had been attended by so many thousands of people.
“All of this craziness could have happened to me and a lot of people I know that also attended Lollapalooza,” said Columbia College student Jake Eisendrath. “It does sometimes make me think, why go to large events?”
Bianca Delagarza, a visitor staying at a nearby hotel, expressed similar fears.
“It’s just so scary to think that in big crowds, bad things can happen,” she said. “I think I’m just going to avoid it altogether!”
Chicago police confirmed they were aware of the reports, and were in contact with their federal partners.
In a statement, the Blackstone emphasized that no one by the name of Stephen Paddock actually stayed in the hotel during the Lollapalooza run.
Why Paddock made the reservation and never used it isn’t clear. But as city crews across the street prepared for this year’s running of the Chicago Marathon, Wisconsin resident Bob Weiland said he heard early today from his son who attended Lollapalooza, alarmed by the new reports about the Las Vegas assailant.
“I think about it from the perspective that if it happened now, how do you get out of where you are?” he said.