Three dead in movie theater shooting in Louisiana

A shooter opened fire in a Louisiana movie theater Thursday night, killing two others and injuring nine before killing himself, according to police.

The injuries range from non-life-threatening to critical.

Police identified the shooter Friday morning as John Russel Houser, 59, of Phenix City, Ala. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said after conducting a background check that the man’s record was “very, very aged” — at least a decade old.

“He seems to be estranged from his family,” Craft said, noting police had spoken with some family members.

“He just seemed like he was drifting along,” Craft added, noting the man had been staying in a local motel. Police found wigs and disguises in the room, and believe Houser planned to escape after the shooting.

{mosads}A witness told The Daily Advertiser newspaper that an “older white man” began shooting during a 7 p.m. local time showing of “Trainwreck” at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La.

“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” the witness said. “He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either.”

One hundred people were in the theater at the time of the shooting. Police were interviewing witnesses into the night Thursday.

The weapon used was a handgun, police said.

Four officers entered the theater during the gunfire and found the gunman dead of a self-inflicted wound, according to Craft.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are reportedly on the scene, along with local and state police.

“We believe the scene is safe at this time,” Sgt. Kyle Suarez told NBC News.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a GOP presidential candidate, and Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) arrived at the scene of the shooting at about 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, according to a report.

Speaking during a news conference, Jindal expressed shock and horror at the shooting.

“As governor, as a father and as a husband, whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us both furious and sad at the same time,” Jindal said, adding that he was “horrified and shocked” by the “seemingly random act of violence.”

He called on the community to come together in support of the victims and their families.

“The best thing anybody can do is to think about them, pray for them shower them with your love,” Jindal said.

“This is an awful night for Lafayette, an awful night for Louisiana, and an awful night for the United States.”

Speaking later from a hospital where some victims were taken, Jindal told reporters that a teacher that was in the theater jumped in front of a bullet to save another person, and that another teacher pulled the fire alarm to alert people to the danger.

“I’m saddened at the terrible loss of life represented in tonight’s tragic shooting,” Boustany said from the scene, adding, “Bridget and I are praying for the families and friends of the victims at this difficult time.”

The Louisiana shooting comes three years and three days after James Holmes opened fire during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring 70.

Holmes was found guilty last week on 24 counts of murder in the July 20, 2012, incident — separate charges of first-degree murder with intent and first-degree murder with extreme difference for each of the 12 victims.

Sandy Phillips, whose daughter was killed in the Aurora shooting, tweeted Thursday night: “Theater shooting in Louisiana. Numbers of injured unknown. Here we go again America. THIS is freedom?”

 — Updated at 8:43 a.m. Friday. 

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