Officials Release Name of Alleged Louisiana Shooter, John Russell Houser, Plus Latest Updates
Police have identified John Russell Houser, 59, as the person suspected of opening fire in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater Thursday night, killing two people and injuring seven more (one critically), before killing himself. Houser was described as a "drifter" from Alabama who had been living in a nearby motel.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft addressed reporters Friday morning with the new details. Houser used a .40 caliber handgun that he brought into the theater with him. He sat in the theater with about 100 other patrons for a screening of Trainwreck for at least 20 minutes before he began shooting. "This is just a senseless, tragic act," Chief Craft said. "Why would you come here and do this?"
At Houser's Motel 6 room, police discovered various disguises, including wigs and glasses, which may mean that he had originally intended to flee. However, once the shooting began and the chaos inside the dark theater followed, police were very quick to arrive. This may be why Houser decided to turn the gun on himself.
"It looks like he spotted the officers coming in and he turned around and went against the crowd and he fired a single gunshot," Chief Craft said.
CNN has reported that Houser was treated for mental illness five years ago. He had also applied for a concealed-carry permit in Alabama in 2006, but was denied due to reports of arson on his record.
Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33, were the two women who died from their wounds. At least one more person, whose name has not been released, is in critical condition at a local hospital following surgery and, according to Chief Craft, is "not doing well."
Police have been unable to find any possible motivation for Houser to open fire in a crowded theater, though the investigation has just begun. Apparently he was estranged from his family and did not know anyone closely in Lafayette.
This post may be updated as further information comes in. For continuing local coverage from the Lafayette, LA, area, visit the website of our sister station News Talk 96.5 KPEL.