الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

US cinema gunman 'tried to flee'

A police officer holds an image of John Houser at a news conference in Lafayette. Louisiana - 24 July 2015

Police said John Houser had a criminal history but that it was “pretty old”

Police have identified the gunman who killed two women and injured nine others before shooting himself inside a Louisiana cinema.

Officials described John Russell Houser, 59, as a “drifter” from Alabama who had been staying at nearby motel.

Witnesses said Houser fired 13 rounds with a handgun during a Thursday night screening of Trainwreck in Lafayette.

Hours earlier, US President Barack Obama told the BBC that gun law reform had been his “greatest frustration”.

Police chief Jim Craft said investigators believe Houser intended to flee rather than take his own life, but the quick police response forced him back into the building.

Mr Craft said Houser’s car was parked outside one of the cinema’s exits. Investigators found wigs and other disguises inside his motel room.

Authorities said Houser’s motive is still unclear, but it appeared he acted alone and did not know the victims. He did have a criminal history but it was “pretty old”, Mr Craft added.

The victims were identified as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux and 31-year-old Jillian Johnson.

Colleagues at a clothing store in Lafayette where Ms Breaux worked said: “Nothing ever prepares you for a loss… Much less the loss of such an amazing young woman.”

Ms Johnson’s husband described her as a “once-in-a-lifetime gal” on the Facebook page of the gift shop they ran in the city.

Nine people were taken to a local hospital with injuries ranging from critical to non-life-threatening. One person remains in critical condition.

Dozens of emergency vehicles were dispatched to the scene of the shooting in Lafayette, a city of about 120,000 people.

About 100 people are thought to have been in the building at the time of the shooting.

One witness said she heard a loud bang like a firecracker about 20 minutes into advertisements before the film and saw a man standing up and shooting.

“He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” Katie Domingue told local newspaper The Advertiser.

Heroic acts

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who arrived at the scene late on Thursday night, said there had been several acts of heroism during the attack.

He told reporters that a teacher who was in the theatre jumped in front of a second teacher, taking a bullet for her.

“Her friend literally jumped over her and, by her account, actually saved her life,” Mr Jindal said.

He said the second teacher then managed to pull sound a fire alarm to alert other cinema-goers.


Witnesses said the shooting began about 20 minutes into a screening of Trainwreck

“We will get through this. We are a resilient community,” Mr Jindal added.

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

US comedian and actress Amy Schumer, who stars in Trainwreck, tweeted: “My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.”

The shooting comes as a jury deliberates the death penalty for a gunman who attacked a cinema in Colorado three years ago.

James Holmes, 27, killed 12 people and wounding 70 others in July 2012 at a screening of a Batman film near Denver.

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