Gunman kills two in Louisiana theatre before killing himself

CHICAGO, July 24

An Alabama drifter fired at least 13 shots inside a crowded movie theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana, last evening, killing two women and wounding seven before taking his own life, police said.

Gunfire erupted during a 7:00pm CDT (0000 GMT) showing of the film Trainwreck.

Two people died in the hail of bullets before the 59-year-old suspect, identified as John Houser, killed himself with a .40 caliber handgun as officers rushed to the scene, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told a press conference this morning.

The shootings took place almost three years to the day after 12 people were killed at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, and follows several mass shootings in the United States in recent weeks.

Authorities said seven people were wounded, three of them critically. One person underwent surgery and “was not doing well,” Craft said.

The two victims were identified as Mayci Breaux, 21 and Jillian Johnson, 33.

Police did not immediately offer a motive. “The shooter is deceased. We may never know,” Craft said, adding that the man had criminal history that he described as “pretty old.” Craft told the press conference that the gunman tried to sneak out of the theatre with the crowd after the shooting.

He was forced back inside by the quick arrival of police, before shooting himself.

“It is apparent that he was intent on shooting and escaping,” he said, noting that Houser’s car, a blue Lincoln Continental, was parked outside the theatre near an exit.

Houser was “kind of a drifter” who had moved to Lafayette recently from Alabama, Craft said.

Police found wigs and glasses and disguises in his motel room, he added.

Silent killer

CHICAGO: Witnesses said the gunman abruptly stood up in the darkness of the Grand 16 Theater about 20 minutes into the movie and began shooting.

“He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” Katie Domingue, who was watching the film with her fiance, told the local Advertiser newspaper. The bullets sent people scrambling from the theater, situated on a main thoroughfare in Lafayette, a city of about 120,000 people roughly 90 km southwest of Baton Rouge, police said.

President Barack Obama, who was travelling to Kenya on Friday, received a briefing about the shooting during a refueling stop in Germany, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the White House, including the President and First Lady, are with the community of Lafayette, Louisiana, especially the families of those who were killed,” a statement said.