Louisiana gunman identified as John Rusel Houser, three people killed in movie theater shooting

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Police hold photo of Louisiana theater gunman John Rusel Houser during press conference

Police hold photo of Louisiana theater gunman John Rusel Houser during press conference

LAFAYETTE, La. (July 24, 2015) — Officials in Lafayette, Louisiana, identified the gunman in Thursday movie theater shooting.

John Rusel Houser, 59, of Alabama, sat silently in the 7 p.m. showing of the movie “Trainwreck” for 20 minutes before firing 13 rounds.

It was apparent that Houser intended to escape the building, but the police response forced him back into the theater, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said Friday. Two police officers had been on the property at the time of the shooting and responded immediately.

Louisiana State Police Col. Michael Edmonson added: “Certainly him coming out and seeing … police arriving forced him back where he then shot himself.

The gunman’s car, parked outside near an exit door, had a switched license plate, Craft said.

The two people killed were both women — Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33, said Craft. One woman died at the scene, and another died at a hospital, authorities said.

Of the nine people injured, one is in critical condition and two have been released, he said.

Houser was formerly of Alabama, and was “kind of a drifter” who is believed to have been in Lafayette since early July. He had been staying at a local hotel, Craft said.

Police say Houser was a “drifter” from Alabama. He arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana in early July, and he was apparently estranged from his family.

Investigators don’t know why he was in Lafayette, though he had an uncle who lived there long ago. The uncle died about 35 years ago, Craft said. Craft said he believes Houser was once married, but wasn’t at the time of the shooting “as far as I know.” There’s nothing in Houser’s criminal history for “probably 10, 15 years,” though he had arrests previously, Craft said.

There are indications that Houser may have consumed alcohol, but there are no indications of drug use, said Craft.

“This is a normal movie theater in a normal town. You never think it could happen here. It just shows senseless acts of violence can happen anywhere,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

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