Gunman Opens Fire in Louisiana Theater, Killing 2 Before Committing Suicide

Louisiana police identify John Russell Houser as shooter in attack that left 7 wounded.


REUTERS - A lone gunman fired 13 shots inside a crowded movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday evening, killing two women and wounding seven before taking his own life, police said. 

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

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. 

Police did not immediately offer a motive and did not disclose any clues they might have found. 

"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 theater 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 theater near an exit. 

Craft was Houser was "kind of a drifter" who had moved to Lafayette recently from Alabama. 

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