Lafayette Movie Theater Shooter Had History of Mental Illness

A gunman in the Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater The Grande Theater shot 2 people dead before turning the gun on himself last Thursday at a 7 p.m. screening of Amy Schumer’s comedy Trainwreck. Up to ten people were injured, but a quick response from the police and two theater goers prevented more fatalities.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters that a teacher who was in the theater jumped in front of a second teacher, saving her life, and a second teacher pulled a fire alarm to alert other moviegoers.

The victims included Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33. Two other injured victims have been released from the hospital, and one remains in critical condition.

The shooter has been identified as 59-year-old John Russell Houser, who had just moved to Lafayette. Police discovered wigs and disguises, as well as a changed license plate on Houser’s car. He used a 45-caliber handgun that was acquired legally.

“It is apparent that he was intent on shooting and then escaping. What happened is that the quick law enforcement response forced him back into the theater, at which time he shot himself,” Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said.

No motive has been found yet, but Houser had a history of mental illness and posted rants online about the government and media. Court documents from 2008 show that his own family tried to have him committed, and he was once committed involuntarily in a hospital in Columbus, Georgia after stalking his daughter and other family members.

The shooting comes after a guilty verdict was given to the 2012 gunman who killed 12 people in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater screening of the Dark Knight Rises. That very same day a gunman attacked two military bases in Chattanooga, Tennessee killing four Marines and one Navy officer.

Many celebrities gave their sympathies and spoke out needing better gun control after the incident on Twitter, including Amy Schumer. Schumer was quick to respond and said, “My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.”

The Grande Theater
movie theater shooting
John Russell Houser