A showing of Judd Apatow’s latest comedy Trainwreck at a theatre in Lafayette, LA, turned tragic last night (23rd July) when a gunman shot several audience members with a handgun before killing himself.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft confirmed that three people are dead, including the shooter, and authorities have stated that three people remain in critical condition. There were approximately 100 people in the theatre during the incident. Police said the identity of the gunman was known immediately after the shooting at the 16-screen Grand Theatre, but did not release his name until this morning.
The gunman was ID’d as John Russell Houser, a 59-year-old white male who was a regular patron at the theatre. Police described Houser as “a kind of drifter” who was from Alabama and had been in Lafayette since early July, staying in a local hotel. Police say various disguises were found at the hotel room where he’d been staying.
Houser fired at least 13 rounds, according to the police chief in a news conference this morning. “It appears he was intent on shooting and escaping,” Clark said. “The quick law enforcement response pushed him back into the theatre.” He said the ages of the victims “range from the late teens to probably into the 60s.” Mayci Breaux, 21, died at the scene, while Jillian Johnson, 33, died after being rushed to the hospital.
The shooting came three years and three days after a man went on a gun-fuelled rampage in a theatre in Aurora, CO, during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. That incident left 12 people dead and 70 injured. In January 2014, a retired police captain shot and killed a man in a Tampa movie theatre who had been texting during previews. In the ensuing argument, the victim reportedly threw popcorn at the man, who then shot him in the chest.
“Going to a summer movie is a celebration of the American creative spirit and one of our nation’s most beloved pastimes,” the Los Angeles-based American Film Institute said in a statement Thursday night. “Let us stand together in these times of tragedy and embrace what is precious to us — churches, schools and places where the arts can send our spirits soaring. As a national community of artists and audiences, AFI offers our heartfelt sympathies to the victims in Louisiana and their families.”