It was unlikely more than half a century ago that two little best-buddy kids growing up in the San Fernando Valley would both make headlines as adults.
One of those youngsters would grow up to be the worst mass killer in modern American history — Las Vegas murderer Stephen Paddock.
The other was Richard Alarcon, a Los Angeles City Councilman, California state senator and assembly member.
Alarcon, once one of the most powerful Democrats in the state, saw his own star tarnish when he was convicted of perjury and voter fraud. While Alarcon’s convictions were overturned early last year, he’s slipped into a quiet life after a failed political comeback against an incumbent Democratic member of Congress.
But he was back Tuesday for newspaper and TV interviews with recollections of his childhood friend who had been just “an average, American kid.”
“I just recognized his face, his hair color, his eyes,” Alarcon said. “He always had big eyes when he was a kid. The face was recognizable.
“… He was an average kid, very pleasant,” he recalled. “He wasn’t overbearing. … He didn’t have the most outspoken personality.
“We’re talking about when we were 8 to 12 years old. He was just an average, American kid.”
That “average American kid” killed himself as law enforcement officers closed in on his 32nd story hotel room in Las Vegas Sunday night. Paddock had just used numerous rifles to kill 59 people on the ground below at a country music festival. More than 500 were injured.
While Alarcon recalled the “pleasant” child, that may have changed when Paddock was 7 and his father was arrested and convicted of bank robbery.
Paddock’s father wasn’t a model prisoner. He managed to escape twice from prison.
Neighbors of Stephen Paddock in his more recent adult years and in a retirement community described him after the killings as surly, unfriendly and standoffish.
Paddock attended Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, graduating in 1971, and previously attended Richard Byrd Middle School.
The Associated Press, citing the federal Office of Personnel Management, reported Tuesday that Paddock worked as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier from 1976-78, presumably while he was living in Southern California and attending Cal State Northridge.
He then worked as an Internal Revenue Service agent until 1984, then spent 18 months in a defense auditing job, according to the report.
— Staff and wire reports