Home / National News / Louisiana Movie Theater Gunman ID'd as John Russel Houser


(LAFAYETTE, Louisiana) — The gunman who opened fire inside a packed movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, Thursday night, was John Russel Houser, police said at a news conference Friday morning.

Houser, 59, who killed himself, is among three people who died, police said. The other two were Mayci Breaux, 21, of Franklin, Louisiana, who died at the theater, and Jillian Johnson, 33, of Lafayette, who died at the hospital.

Nine others were injured, including one who was in critical condition, police said.

Houser is from Phenix City, Alabama, and has no known connection to Lafayette, police said. Houser was described as a drifter by police, who said he had likely been in Lafayette since early July, staying at a motel.

“It is apparent he was intent on shooting and escaping” before police forced him back into the theater where he shot himself to death, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said at the news conference, explaining that his 1995 blue Lincoln Continental was positioned near the exit.

Police found wigs and glasses in his car and motel room, Craft said.

The shooting occurred at the Grand 16 Theater on Johnston Street where a screening of Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck was playing. Conditions of those injured range from non-life-threatening to critical and their ages ranged from the late teens to their 60s, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said at a news conference.

The shooting comes one week after James Holmes was convicted of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Two people were released from the hospital as of early Friday morning, police said.

Gunfire broke out around 7:30 p.m. in one of the movie theater’s auditoriums, Lafayette Police told ABC News. More than 100 people were in the theater, according to Louisiana State Police.

The motive for the shooting remained unclear.

Authorities checked suspicious packages inside the shooter’s car and the movie theater, but no explosive devices were found, Craft said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who arrived in Lafayette late Thursday, called the shooting a seemingly random act of violence at a news conference.

“Whenever we see these or hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us both furious and sad at the same time,” Jindal said.

“Lafayette is a strong community,” Jindal said. “We will get through this, we’re a resilient community. This is an awful night for Lafayette, this is an awful night for Louisiana, this is an awful night for the United States.”

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy also tweeted, expressing his condolences for those shot.

The FBI said in a statement: “The FBI New Orleans Division is aware of a shooting incident that occurred at a Lafayette area movie theater in which FBI Agents, along with state and local law enforcement have responded. Presently a joint law enforcement coordination is under way and further details will be shared once the information becomes available.”

The theater and its parent company, the Southern Theatres, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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