Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, the father of the Las Vegas massacre shooter Stephen Paddock, was a known bank robber in the 1950s and 1960s.


Benjamin Paddock appears to have been mostly absent from his children’s lives, leaving their mother to raise them. Though Stephen and Eric Paddock are known to be his sons, only one Patrick Paddock was noted in his paid obituary.

Benjamin Paddock sold garbage disposals and was a repair man in Tucson, but he also got cash from robbing banks. Between 1959 and 1960, Paddock broke into two branches of Valley National Bank in Phoenix and made off with $25,000 according to a 1960 article in the Arizona Republic newspaper. He was convicted in 1961 and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. When the Vegas gunman was only 8, his father was sent to prison in Texas.

The robber served less than half of his sentence, as he escaped in 1968 and made his way to San Francisco, where he robbed yet another bank. He eventually traveled up to Oregon. He shaved his head and grew a goatee to avoid being recognized, and even changed his name to Bruce Werner Ericksen.

In 1969, Benjamin Paddock was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and he was described as 6 foot 4, 245 pounds, and “diagnosed as psychopathic.” He was to be considered armed and dangerous, and the wanted poster added that he was an “avid bridge player.” He opened Oregon’s first permanent bingo parlor in the late ’70s in downtown Springfield. “No one was privy to who he was previously,” said Frederick van Denise II, who lent Paddock $12,000 to open the parlor, told reporters. He said everyone called him Bingo Bruce.

During a bingo game on Sept. 6, 1978, Paddock was lured outside, only to be caught by federal agents. “He was a con artist,” van Denise said Monday. “I took it in the shorts. The money was gone.”

Paddock went back to prison but his stay was once again short-lived. He was released on parole after only one year behind bars. He returned to Eugene, Oregon, where he had made friends with elected officials. A mayor even told the federal parole board that he “did one hell of a lot for kids.” Paddock opened another bingo hall sponsored by a local church before running into trouble again in the 1980s. He avoided jail time by paying $623,000 in fees, and eventually left Oregon for Texas, where he lived until his death in 1998.

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