Police identify gunman in Louisiana movie theater shooting

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John R. Houser (Credit: Lafayette Police Department)

John R. Houser
(Credit: Lafayette Police Department)

LAFAYETTE, La. — Police have identified the gunman in the Louisiana movie theater shooting as 59-year-old John R. Houser,  Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said Friday.

He was from Alabama, was “kind of a drifter” and is believed to have been in Lafayette since early July.

It was apparent Houser intended to escape the building, but the police response forced him back into the theater.

His car, parked outside near an exit door, had a switched license plate, Craft said.

Investigators also found wigs and glasses — “disguises, basically” — in a local hotel room where he was staying.

The two people killed were identified as Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33, according to Craft.

 

Of the nine people injured, one is in critical condition, and two have been released, he said.

One of the women died at the scene, and another died later at a hospital, authorities said.

Johnson was from Lafayette, and Breaux was a native of Franklin, La., Craft said.

“Don’t lose sight of the fact that these two individuals had a vision, had a name, had a future,” said Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police. “It wasn’t to die as they did horribly in this theater here.”

In an online business profile, Johnson is identified as the co-owner of the Red Arrow Workshop. The business is described as a gift, apparel, accessories and toy shop. Johnson owned the shop with her husband, Jason, the website says.

Background on the shooting

The shooting took place at the Grand Theatre 16 in Lafayette, about 45 miles west of the state capital, Baton Rouge.

About 100 people were inside the theater for a screening of the comedy, “Trainwreck,” when the shooting happened shortly before 8:30 p.m.

The scene immediately after the shooting was chaotic.

“A whole bunch of girls started screaming and we heard that someone was shot,” Roxy Martinez told CNN affiliate KATC. “There were a lot of people running.”

Her brother saw a woman who had been shot in the stomach.

“I see a lady full of blood in a dress,” Robert Martinez said. “She was just looking at me in complete fear.”

Todd Moffatt, manager of a Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant in the area, said 20 to 30 emergency vehicles had arrived on the scene. The area was locked down, he said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tweeted, “I’m on my way to Lafayette right now. Please say a prayer for the victims at Grand Theatre and their families.”

The shooting happened days after the conviction of James Holmes in the July 19, 2012, Aurora, Colo., theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 70 people wounded.