Theatre shooter known as ‘an an­gry man’


The man who killed two peo­ple and wounded nine oth­ers at a “Train­wreck” show­ing was so men­tally ill and vi­o­lent that years ago, his wife hid his guns and his fam­ily had him hos­pi­tal­ized against his will be­fore ob­tain­ing a court or­der to keep him away, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, which also show his wife filed for di­vorce this year.

John Rus­sel Houser, 59, stood up about 20 min­utes into the movie and fired first at two peo­ple sit­ting in front of him, then aimed his hand­gun at oth­ers, fir­ing at least 13 times, po­lice said Fri­day.

“They heard a cou­ple of pops and didn’t know what it was,” said Ran­dall Mann, whose 21year-old daugh­ter, Emily, was sit­ting in the same row as the shooter.

She told her fa­ther that she did not hear the shooter say any­thing be­fore open­ing fire. “And then they saw the muz­zle flashes, and that’s when they knew what was go­ing on. She hit the floor im­me­di­ately.”

Ran­dall Mann said his daugh­ter and her friend es­caped, un­in­jured but trau­ma­tized.

Po­lice say Houser had one ad­di­tional mag­a­zine of bul­lets for his hand­gun as he tried to es­cape. Then, when he spot­ted po­lice of­fi­cers out­side, he turned around and pushed back through the flee­ing crowd. The of­fi­cers tailed him into the theatre and heard a sin­gle shot be­fore find­ing him dead in­side, po­lice said.

Houser parked his 1995 blue Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal — with a mis­matched li­cence plate — by the theatre’s exit door, and dis­guises in­clud­ing glasses and wigs were found in a search of his room at a nearby Mo­tel 6, po­lice said.

“It is ap­par­ent that he was in­tent on shoot­ing and then es­cap­ing,” Lafayette Po­lice Chief Jim Craft said.

Po­lice were look­ing at online post­ings they be­lieved Houser wrote to learn more about him and try to fig­ure out his mo­tive, su­per­in­ten­dent Col. Michael D. Ed­mon­son said Fri­day.

In the 1990s, he fre­quently ap­peared on a lo­cal tele­vi­sion callin show, ad­vo­cat­ing vi­o­lence against peo­ple in­volved in abor­tions, said Calvin Floyd, who hosted the morn­ing show on WLTZ-TV in Colum­bus, Ge­or­gia.

Houser also es­poused other rad­i­cal views, in­clud­ing his op- po­si­tion to women in the work­place. Floyd de­scribed Houser as an “an­gry man” who made “wild ac­cu­sa­tions” about all sorts of top­ics, and said he put him on to counter a Demo­cratic voice be­cause “he could make the phones ring.”

The two fa­tal­i­ties were iden­ti­fied as 33-year-old Jil­lian John­son and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux. Five peo­ple were sent to hos­pi­tal with gun­shot in­juries.

Hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said Fri­day three peo­ple were in sta­ble con­di­tion.

Two oth­ers were treated and re­leased Thurs­day.

The­atre­go­ers said the gun­man sat alone and said noth­ing be­fore he stood up and opened fire at Thurs­day’s 7:10 p.m. show­ing of “Train­wreck” at the Grand 16 theatre.


Author­i­ties and media park Fri­day at the scene of a Thurs­day night shoot­ing at The Grand Theatre, in Lafayette, Louisiana.



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