At least three people, including the gunman, are dead after a shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, officials say.
Nine others were injured in the shooting, which occurred at about 7:30 p.m. at The Grand 16 Theatre on Johnston Street. The ages of the victims run from the late teens to the 60s, police said.
The suspected gunman has been identified as 59-year-old John Houser, a right wing blogger with a history of mental health problems who was described by police as a drifter with few ties to Lafayette.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Gunman Killed Himself After Police Entered the Theater
Lafayette Police said they entered the theater to engage Houser and he killed himself. The officers heard the gunfire as they approached the building.
The gunman was using a handgun, police said. Police said they believe the shooter was firing at random. John Houser does have a criminal history, but Police Chief Jim Craft said it is old, “nothing recent.”
The local ambulance company said nine people were taken to the hospital. Three of those injured were in critical condition, officials said.
There were about 100 people inside the theater, a state police sergeant told CNN.
At the scene of Grand 16 Theater on Johnston Street reported dead including shooter. Six confirmed injured. pic.twitter.com/miPsxTQGbD
— Jessica Goff (@JGoffTDA) July 24, 2015
Police said there was only one shooter and the “active shooter” situation is over.
The scene remained active and police were searching for possible explosives as a precaution:
The gunman’s vehicle was found, with a “suspicious package,” inside, and the bomb squad was brought in, halting the police investigation until they determined it would be safe. According to reports on Twitter, reporters were pushed back from the scene and a nearby apartment complex was being evacuated because of the bomb threat:
This is the moment reporters and bystanders were told to get back:
No explosives were found.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal tweeted about the shooting was at the scene:
2. A Witness Said the Gunman Opened Fire During the Movie ‘Trainwreck’
A witness told The Daily Advertiser she heard about six shots before she exited the theater. Police said a total of about 13 shots were fired from Houser’s handgun.
“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” said Katie Domingue, who was in the theater watching Trainwreck with her fiance. “He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either.”
The shooting started about 20 minutes into the movie, she told the newspaper. She and her fiance ran out of an exit and she said she left behind her shoes and purse.
Governor Bobby Jindal said two teachers who were inside the theater heroically jumped into action, one taking a bullet to protect someone else and the other pulling a fire alarm. The teacher who was shot was expected to survive, the governor said.
The star of the Trainwreck movie, Amy Schumer, tweeted condolences:
3. People Who Were Inside the Theater Tweeted About the Shooting
Alarms were set off in the theater, the movies stopped and lights went on after the shooting was reported, witnesses said. Some heard gunshots, while others just witnessed the chaos as people scrambled for cover and exits.
He first tweeted at about 7:52 p.m. local time. Lafayette is in the Central time zone.
Another user described the scene as “mass panic.”
Other users also tweeted and posted to Instagram:
4. The Shooting Comes Just Over 3 Years After the Aurora Theater Shooting
The shooting in Lafayette comes just over three years after James Holmes opened fire at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012. Holmes, who was convicted of several counts of murder last week and is facing the death penalty, killed 12 people and injured 70 others.
Jurors today are in the process of deciding whether Holmes will be executed or sentenced to life in prison.
Sandy Phillips, the mother of one of the Aurora victims, Jessica Ghawi, tweeted her reaction to the Lafayette shooting:
The Lafayette shooting is a week after four Marines and a Navy sailor were killed at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a month after a gunman killed nine churchgoers at the “Mother” Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
5. The Grand Theatre Is Part of a Chain of Movie Theaters
Lafayette is the fourth largest city in Louisiana, with a population of about 120,000, and is in the southwestern part of the state.
The Grand Theatre is owned by Southern Theatres LLC:
Southern Theatres, LLC. is the eighth largest theatre circuit in The United States and is currently responsible for the daily operations of The Grand Theatres, Amstar Cinemas, The Theatres at Canal Place and oversight of operations for Movie Tavern. The company operates 40 locations with 452 screens in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Southern Theatres, LLC. is well positioned for continued expansion in key markets throughout the United States. Southern Theatres, LLC. is proud to be headquartered in New Orleans, LA.
The Lafayette theater is at 3141 Johnston Street. There is another Grand Theatre in Lafayette. Police said it was closed as a precaution.
The movie theater chain said the theater will be closed indefinitely.