Las Vegas Shooter Was Using Same Drug John Hinckley Used Before Attempting to Assassinate President Reagan

Stephen Paddock
Stephen Paddock

The anti-anxiety drug prescribed to Stephen Paddock less than four months before his horrific onslaught in Las Vegas is often consumed by marksmen to calm their nerves and steady their aim.

But that same drug — diazepam — also was prescribed for John Hinckley Jr. before his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Washington, D.C., attorney Paul Kamenar said Wednesday that he believes diazepam aggravated Hinckley’s mental illness and “actually contributed to his dangerous propensity.”

The Jekyll-and-Hyde reactions to the drug, more commonly known under the trade name Valium, are well understood, according to both Dr. Denis Patterson, a board-certified pain medicine specialist based in Reno, and Dr. Mel Pohl, chief medical officer at the Las Vegas Recovery Center.

Pohl pointed out that all sorts of drugs cause paradoxical reactions. Manufacturers themselves acknowledge that fact through TV ads that warn antidepressants “may cause suicidal thoughts in some patients.”

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported exclusively on Tuesday, records from the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program obtained by the newspaper show that Paddock received a prescription for 50 10-milligram tablets of diazepam on June 21 from Henderson physician Dr. Steven Winkler.

‘Marksmen regularly use it’

Patterson said when he learned that Paddock had been prescribed diazepam — a sedative-hypnotic drug in a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines — he immediately thought about two things:

“I wondered what psychosocial distress he might have been in and then I also wondered if he made up symptoms for a doctor so he could use the drug to make him more relaxed in the moment for better shooting,” he said, adding that “marksmen regularly use it.”

Henderson physician Dr. James Gabroy, who said he enjoys target shooting in the desert, said Wednesday that is a more plausible scenario.

“That’s exactly what it’s used for by many who shoot,” he said.

Winkler, the Henderson physician who prescribed diazepam for Paddock in June and in 2016, has not responded to questions about why he prescribed the medication.

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SOURCE: Paul Harasim
Las Vegas Review-Journal