The homes in Sun City are so cookie-cutter similar that one wonders whether residents sometimes get confused about which one they live in.

The houses, which are painted in terracotta tones that blend in seamlessly with the desert surroundings, stand side by side in a labyrinth of winding streets. Each home is complete with a neat rock garden filled with succulents. About one in every 10 proudly flies the American flag out front. The streets, which are dotted with caravans and golf carts, are impeccably clean.

It is hard to fathom that this is the community from which Stephen Paddock, 64, plotted the worst mass shooting in American history. Sun City, situated below a stunning tabletop mountain, is found about an hour's drive north of Las Vegas, where Paddock carried out his deadly mission on Sunday.

The manicured community of 3750 homes, situated in the city of Mesquite, Nevada, is designed for "active adults" aged 55 and over.


Prospective new residents can choose between 10 house designs starting at $US199,000. It boasts an award-winning 18-hole golf course and a recreation centre with pools, game rooms and a gym. It has all the amenities a cashed-up senior could want to live out their retirement. The fact that people in Nevada don't have to pay state income tax doesn't hurt either.

When visited this week, just days after Paddock killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others in his shooting rampage, the community was peacefully quiet.

Driving through its streets, you would never know it had been combed by police and FBI investigators struggling to find a motive for the attack. As I walked down one street, a friendly senior waves from her golf cart with an air that suggested it was just another day in retirement paradise.

Signs at the entrance to the part of the village Stephen Paddock lived in. Photo /
Signs at the entrance to the part of the village Stephen Paddock lived in. Photo /

Yet, there are signs of strain in this town. The community has been flooded with police and TV news crews. One resident has placed signs at the entrance to section the village where Paddock lived in the hope of some peace. "No trespassing: violators will be prosecuted," one sign screams. "Residents only," pleads another.

Paddock's sandy-coloured 185sq m home is found at the end of a cul-de-sac named Babbling Brook Circuit. He bought it in 2015 for $US369,000. It is as tidy and unassuming as every other home in the community.

The only thing that is amiss is that there are twisted ribbons of metal in the driveway from when police broke down the garage door to gain entry.

Inside they found a cache of 19 firearms and thousand of rounds of ammunition. The garage is now boarded up with plywood. Over the back fence, barren land stretches out for miles. It's as though Paddock chose a home on the last patch of civilisation at the end of the world.

The once quiet cul-de-sac has become something of a morbid attraction, with locals walking or driving up to it in a steady stream for a stickybeak at the killer's lair.

It's something that is clearly grating on the neighbours. When I drove up to the house, Paddock's next door neighbour darted out of his home and began berating me.

"Do not come in here unless you live in the community," the man yelled. The next-door neighbour on the other side has a sign on the door asking the media not to knock. "We did not know him," the sign reads.

In fact, most people in the community say they did not know him or the girlfriend he lived with, former Australian resident Marilou Danley. The couple appears to have kept largely to themselves in what is a very social community. They didn't join in golf or bingo, the curtains on the windows were always closed and Paddock put his bins out so early that no one ever saw him do it, avoiding any chitchat with neighbours.

Richard Webb, who lives a few streets over from Babbling Brook Circuit, was surprised that the architect of such a "heinous crime" could live so close.

"It makes you wonder what his motivations were and whether he was a threat to the area," he said.

Brenda Hulbert, who lives over the street, said the community was in "disbelief".
"This is a lovely, safe, quiet, peaceful place. A haven. We're struggling a little bit," she said.

Residents here are understandably keen to distance themselves from Paddock and his atrocity. They see him as an outlier, someone who doesn't represent the community or the America they live in.

"It's one of those one-of-a-kind things," Mr Webb said.

And if you think that this tragedy might start Americans thinking seriously about tightening gun laws, there isn't much appetite for it in this neighbourhood at least.

Mr Webb, a target shooter, said many people in the area were proud gun owners for the purposes of recreation and protection. As Mr Webb puts it, "it's the price of freedom".