Louisiana shooter identified, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: 'Please say a prayer for the victims and their families'

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (C) prepares for a news conference outside the movie theatre where a man opened fire on film goers in Lafayette, Louisiana July 23, 2015. | REUTERS/LEE CELANO

UPDATED 9:15 a.m.

LAFAYETTE, La. (Christian Examiner) -- Police identified the man who witnesses said shot 11 others and himself in a crowded movie theater Thursday night as John Russell Houser, 59, a "drifter," said to be estranged from his family and living in a Motel 6 where investigators found wigs, glasses, and disguises in his room.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters the two local women Houser killed before he shot himself are Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33.

As word spread Thursday night of the shooting in the Lafayette movie theater, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took to social media to tweet he was on his way to the scene and asked for prayer for the victims and their families.

"I'm on my way to Lafayette right now. Please say a prayer for the victims at Grand Theatre and their families," Jindal tweeted.

The shooting took place almost three years to the day after James Holmes murdered a dozen people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. Last week a jury found Holmes guilty of 165 counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder. Today phase 2 of the trial approved the jury can consider the death penalty for the convicted killer. 

Houser had been described first as an "older, white man" began shooting about 20 minutes into a screening of the movie "Trainwreck" at about 7:30 p.m. CT at the Grand Theater, according to news reports

About 100 people were in the theater when Houser opened fire, according to Reuters. 

Officials stand by the scene outside the movie theatre where a man opened fire on film goers in Lafayette, Louisiana July 23, 2015. | REUTERS/LEE CELANO

"He wasn't saying anything. I didn't hear anybody screaming either," a witness told The Advertiser.

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

The FBI said in a statement: "The FBI New Orleans Division is aware of a shooting incident that occurred at a Lafayette area movie theater in which FBI Agents, along with state and local law enforcement have responded. Presently a joint law enforcement coordination is under way and further details will be shared once the information becomes available."

Witnesses had described a "pretty horrifice scene" Houser left behind, before shooting himself, Craft said.

Teachers described as heroic pulled a fire alarm, alerting officers who were nearby, to the scene.