Vegas Shooter's 'Psychopathic' Father Became 'Bingo Bruce'

Benjamin Paddock was a bank robber who escaped prison and opened a bingo parlor
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2017 7:44 AM CDT
Gunman's Father Had Run-In With FBI in Vegas 57 Years Ago
This photo combination shows an image from a 1960s FBI wanted poster of Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, left, and a 1977 file photo of Paddock. He is the father of Stephen Paddock.   (FBI and Wayne Eastburn/The Register-Guard via AP, File)

One of the more unusual details to emerge about Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock is that his father was a bank robber who spent about a decade on the FBI's most wanted list. In fact, Benjamin Paddock also had a history with Vegas: In 1960 FBI agents arrested him there for three bank heists in Phoenix. The agents say Paddock tried to run one of them down in his car and stopped only when one of them fired through his windshield, according to newspaper accounts of the time culled by the Washington Post. Paddock ended up in a federal prison in Texas but escaped in 1968 or 1969 (accounts differ). The resulting FBI poster says he is "diagnosed as psychopathic," has suicidal tendencies, and should be considered armed and "very dangerous." It also notes that he's an "avid bridge player" and a con artist.

Upon his escape, Paddock robbed one more bank and made his way to Oregon, where he assumed the identity of Bruce Werner Ericksen. There, "Bingo Bruce" opened the first permanent bingo parlor in the state and lived as Ericksen until the feds finally caught up with him in 1978, reports the New York Times. He went back to prison but was released on parole the following year. He eventually moved to Texas, avoided jail on racketeering charges in the 1980s, and died in 1998. Paddock apparently played no role in the raising of his four children. Eric Paddock, brother of Stephen, says he grew up thinking his father was dead. Stephen would have been about 7 when his father was first sent to prison. Authorities still don't have a motive for Sunday night's massacre, but Stephen Paddock had a hotel room full of guns. (More Stephen Paddock stories.)

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