Louisiana Movie Theater Shooting Leaves Three Dead, Including Gunman

A gunman opened fire inside a crowded Lafayette movie theater, killing two people before turning the gun on himself, police said. Nine others were injured.

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What We Know So Far

  • A gunman opened fire during a screening of "Trainwreck" at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, killing two people and injuring nine more.
  • The gunman then turned the gun on himself.
  • One woman is in a critical condition in hospital.
  • The gunman has been identified as 59-year-old John Russel Houser

Watch the Lafayette shooting press conference here.

Updates

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Louisiana State Police searched a room at a Motel 6 in Lafayette where the shooter may have stayed, the Associated Press reported.

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A gunman opened fire Thursday night inside a Louisiana movie theater, killing two people and injuring several others before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters that the shooter killed himself with his own handgun after opening fire inside a crowded theater.

Nine others were injured, with their conditions ranging from non–life-threatening to one woman in a critical condition, he added. They ranged in age from their late teens to their sixties and are from "several" southern states, he said.

Police were in the area when the shooting was first reported inside the Grand Theatre about 7:30 p.m., Craft said. Four officers entered the theater during the gunfire. Inside, they found the gunman dead of a self-inflicted wound.

Lafayette City Councilman Keith Patin told BuzzFeed News the property was searched for explosives out of "an abundance of caution." The motive for the shooting was not immediately known, authorities said.

"I'm at a loss for words," he said. "You go about your daily lives thinking it's always somewhere else."

Craft added that police had identified the shooter — a white man in his fifties — but would not be releasing his name immediately.

Sources tell us there was a shooting at The Grand on Johnston. Several injuries reported, including the shooter.

"We don’t want to affect the integrity [of the investigation] or the investigators' ability to do their jobs and get information on the shooter," Craft told reporters. The man identified has a criminal history, authorities added, but the offense appeared to be from several years ago.

About 100 people were in the theater at the time, he added, and police were continuing to interview witnesses.

The gunman is believed to have been sitting alone in the theater.

"It really is a chaotic scene," Craft said. "There were a lot of people here."

The injured were taken to local hospitals.

Acadian on scene at Geand Theater in Lafayette, La. 8 transported to area hospitals. Scene calm now.

Witnesses told the Daily Advertiser that the shooting took place inside Theater 14, which was screening Trainwreck.

Shooting at the Grand 16. Witnesses say a man opened fire in the theater. More details soon

One witness said a man stood up amid the rows of seating about 20 minutes into the movie and began shooting down.

The shooting came in the final days of the trial of James Holmes, found guilty of killing 12 people and attempting to kill 70 others during a 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. A jury is currently hearing testimony to determine if he should be punished with life in prison or death.

The incident prompted a massive police response, with one reporter counting at least 100 patrol cars.

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Craft said the shooting was limited to one theater, and that with the gunman dead, there was no other threat to public safety.

State police, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also responding to the scene, officials said. Investigators identified what appeared to be the gunman's car. Inside were packages that looked "suspicious," Col. Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police said.

The bomb squad was deployed to explode the car's trunk and windows to get inside and evaluate, he said. Once the car and theater were cleared, teams of forensic investigators and the coroner planned to go inside where the body of the shooter and one victim remained.

Authorities expected to remain at the scene though Friday morning.

"There’s a lot of information in there," Edmonson said. "We want to make sure we get it accurately."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential hopeful, arrived at the scene Thursday night.

Gov. Jindal and Congressman Charles Boustany have just arrived at the scene of the Grand 16 Theater shooting

Jindal praised the efforts of first responders and the cooperation among local, state, and federal law enforcement.

KLFY / Via klfy.com

"As governor, as a father and a husband, whenever we see these senseless acts of violence it makes us both furious and sad at the same time," he said.

"We will get through this," he added. "We are a resilient community."

Outside a Lafayette hospital, Jindal shared a story about a group of teachers who had been inside the theater.

Reporters at the scene later identified the teachers as Jena Meaux and Ali Martin.

In a conversation with BuzzFeed News, Nicole Viator Guilbeau said she was Martin's sister and confirmed the women's identities. Guilbeau said Martin was "doing fine" several hours after the shooting.

"All I have to say is that God is good," Guilbeau added.

Both women work for the Iberia Parish School Board, according to their Facebook pages.

Teacher Jena Meaux is a school librarian. It looks like Ali Martin is a high school teacher.

Jindal said one of the women jumped on top of the other to spare her from gunfire, suffering a non–life-threatening injury in the process. One of the women also pulled a fire alarm in an effort to alert authorities, the governor said.

The Iberia Association of Educators and the Louisiana Association of Educators set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the women. As of early Friday morning the page had raised around $900.

Jindal had earlier asked for prayers for the victims and their families.

I'm on my way to Lafayette right now. Please say a prayer for the victims at Grand Theatre and their families.

Other Louisiana lawmakers also offered their condolences Thursday night.

Please join Laura and I in praying for those in Lafayette right now.

The news of the Lafayette theater shooting is so scary and sad. Everyone needs to be saying some prayers. Will work on getting more info.

Comedian Amy Schumer, who stars in Trainwreck, also expressed her sorrow.

My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.

Louisiana allows the open carry of firearms, with some restrictions. Concealed carry of handguns is allowed with a permit.

Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

Firearms, however, are not allowed in some areas, including school zones, government offices, and private property where signs forbid them.

To obtain a concealed carry permit, residents must complete a training course, as well as provide information about their arrest and divorce history.