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24 Jul, 2015 01:47

Louisiana police identify movie theater shooter

Three people have been killed and seven others injured after a man opened fire at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. One of the deceased is the suspect, who turned the gun on himself.

59 year-old John Russell Houser has been identified as the suspected lone gunman, Louisiana police announced on Friday.

The Alabama native has been accused of using a .40-caliber handgun in an attack on a crowd who were watching 'Trainwreck' in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday evening. He fired 13 rounds of bullets with no known motive, not attempting to target specific people, Governor Bobby Jindal told CNN on Friday.

"There's never a good explanation for why these things happen, these senseless acts of violence," Jindal said. "I think in this particular case the explanation will be even less satisfying than in other cases based on what they've learned by just talking to family members and processing the hotel room and the car."

According to witnesses the man opened fire some 20 minutes into the movie Train Wreck, which was being screened at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette.

“He wasn't saying anything. I didn't hear anybody screaming either,” a witness told The Advertiser, describing the shooter as “an older white man.”

The shooter eventually turned the gun on himself, before authorities were able to approach him.

Lafayette police initially received the call about the shooting, which involved “multiple victims,” at around 7:30pm local time. Multiple police teams were deployed to the scene, surrounded and swept the movie theater.

After police entered the building to “engage the shooter” they were able to confirm that he was unresponsive and likely dead, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters. The situation at the theater was “contained,” he added.

A bomb squad was deployed to the scene after police identified the suspect’s car and saw "suspicious objects" inside. The surrounding area was evacuated with witnesses reporting the presence of a bomb disposal robot.

The victims of the attack were two women, Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said on Friday, as cited by CNN. According to the authorities, one woman perished at the scene while the other died in hospital.

Craft added that of the nine people injured, one is in critical condition and two have been released.

Jindal said that he had been in contact with local police and set off for Lafayette to oversee the investigation of the incident.

“Troopers are working closely with the Lafayette Police Department as well as numerous other agencies to provide assistance and investigate the shooting,” Louisiana State Police said in a statement.

Houser came to Lafayette from Phenix City, Alabama, and stayed at the local Motel 6 for several weeks. He was "estranged" from his family, according to the police. His family said he had a "volatile mental state" in 2008 court documents in which they sought protection from him, AP reported.

Investigators said they found wigs, glasses, and disguises in his motel room. 

Craft said the gunman’s vehicle had a switched license plate on it, which may mean he intended to flee the scene.

Almost three years ago, on July 20, 2012, another mass shooting took place at the premier of ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Rises’ in Aurora, Colorado.

The gunman set off tear gas grenades and shot the audience at random with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others at a midnight screening.

The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, was arrested in his car which had been parked outside the cinema minutes later. His trial began on April 27, 2015. Holmes confessed to the shooting, but pleaded not guilty on the grounds of insanity. Prosecutors are currently seeking the imposition of the death penalty.