LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY/AP/WRIC) — The gunman who fired into a crowd of moviegoers in Louisiana last night — killing two people — is described as a drifter from Alabama, 59-year-old John Houser.
Police say he tried to escape by blending into the crowd that was fleeing, but he turned back when he saw police heading inside from the parking lot. Officers followed him back into the theater, where they heard a single gunshot and found him dead. Police said Friday that Houser fired a handgun 13 times inside the theater, killing two people and wounding at least nine others before fatally shooting himself.
The Associated Press reports that Houser’s wife and other family members asked for a temporary protective order in 2008 against the man. Court documents seeking the order said Houser, “exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements.”
The documents said even though he lived in Phenix City, Alabama, he had come to Carroll County, Georgia, where they lived and “perpetrated various acts of family violence.”
Houser “has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder” the filing said.
The filing says Houser’s wife, Kellie Maddox Houser, “has become so worried about the defendant’s volatile mental state that she has removed all guns and/or weapons from their marital residence.”
The protection order was at least temporarily granted.
She filed for divorce in March.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the gunman parked his car near the theater’s exit door and was intent on escaping, but couldn’t because police arrived so quickly.
Authorities have not determined a motive.
Louisiana State Police spokesman Maj. Doug Cain said the theater investigation led them to a room at the Motel 6. Cain said authorities were investigating whether the shooter had stayed there. He said the bomb squad swept the room before going in as a precaution.
About a dozen police personnel could be seen outside the motel. At one point, an officer carried out a cardboard box from the room and other officers could be seen knocking on neighboring doors.
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The shooting happened around 7:30 p.m. on July 23, 2015, during a showing of the movie “Trainwreck.”
Louisiana and Lafayette Police believe the shooter, a 59-year-old white male, was sitting alone in the theater when he suddenly got up and started firing a semi-automatic handgun.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft tells KLFY that the shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Two people who were sitting in front of him were killed. One of the victims died at the scene, the other died at a local hospital.
Nine other people were injured in the shooting. Our media partners at The Daily Advertiser report eight were transported by ambulance and one was taken by private party.
Investigators say the shooting appears to be random. Police had to delay their investigation of the crime scene, for several hours, after a suspicious package was located in the car that they believed to belong to the shooter.
Authorities detonated the car and said the package turned out to be harmless.
The nearby Greenbriar Condominiums was evacuated due to the suspicious package but the evacuation order has been lifted.
Chief Craft also said that Lafayette Police know the identity of the shooter but are withholding his identity at this time.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal rushed to Baton Rouge to the scene and then later visited victims and families at Lafayette General.