Louisiana Shooting: Gunman Kills Two
Published: July 24, 2015
Louisiana Shooting: Gunman Kills Two, A 59-year-old ‘drifter’ named John Russel Houser has been identified as the gunman behind a deadly attack on a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana Thursday night.
Police say Houser pulled out a hidden handgun about 20 minutes into a 7pm screening of the light-hearted romantic comedy Trainwreck, shooting dead two young women sitting in the row in front of him before firing indiscriminately at the rest of the theater to injure nine more.
Jillian Johnson, a 33-year-old who runs a gift shop with her husband, and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, who attended Louisiana State University, have been identified as the victims of the calculated attack.
Breaux died on the scene while Johnson was pronounced dead at the hospital. Of the nine others injured in the attack, police say two have been released from the hospital and one is in critical condition.
Two young woman were senselessly shot dead in a Lafayette, Louisiana theater Thursday night, as they watched the romantic comedy Trainwreck.
On Friday, police identified the victims of the calculated attack as Jillian Johnson, a 33-year-old who runs a gift shop with her husband, and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, a Louisiana State University student studying radiology.
Police say driver John Russel Houser, 59, opened fire in the theater of more than 100 jsut 20 minutes into the 7pm screening, killing Johnson and Breax and injuring nine others before committing suicide when cornered by police.
As the victims were identified by name Friday morning, friends and family started a flood of tributes on Johnson and Breaux’s Facebook pages, showing just how much to the two young women were loved and will be missed.
Johnson, 33, leaves behind her husband of two years, Jason Brown, with whom she ran a local gift shop with called Red Arrow Workshop. The couple also owned a clothing store called Parish Ink which had two locations in Lafayette and one in New Orleans.
On Friday, Brown wrote a touching tribute to his wife on their shop’s Facebook page.
‘Our hearts are shattered. We will love you forever. She was a once-in-a-lifetime gal. A mother, daughter, sister and a truly exceptional wife. She was an artist, a musician, an entrepreneur and a true renaissance woman. She was the love of my life and I will miss her always,’ Brown wrote.
Friends also revealed that Johnson spent many years as the frontwoman of a local all-girl band called The Figs.
Breax, meanwhile, was from Franklin, Lousiana where she graduated attended Hanson Memorial High School and was voted ‘Most Beautiful’ by her 2012 graduating class and was co-captain of the Varsity cheerleading team.
Her family said she was living in Lafayette at the time with her longterm boyfriend Matthew Rodriguez. Their home in Lafayette was not far from Louisiana State University at Eunice, where Breaux was studying to be a ultrasound and radiology technician. She was expected to graduate in 2017.
‘I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. I lost one of my best friends,’ her mother Dondie Breaux told the New York Daily News.
‘It’s hard for me to talk about it,’ her father Kevin Breaux told the Daily News through tears. ‘How could someone do that to her? I just can’t talk right now.’
Mrs Breaux says that her daughter was an honor student at LSU, and dreamed of marrying her boyfriend after graduation and starting a family of her own.
Breaux’s younger sister Ali says Breaux and Rodriguez were childhood friends, but didn’t start dating until high school.
‘I remember being in the car with her when he Facebook messaged her and freaking out,’ she said. ‘He was that hot guy. She was so excited.’
‘I always wanted what they had because it was just so great. They never fought,’ Ali added. ‘We talked about her wedding, how I’d be her maid of honor, about us having kids at the same time, how we’d all be close.’
At the time of her death, Breaux had been working at a local clothing shop called coco eros, and the owners of the store posted a moving tribute to her Friday morning.
‘Nothing ever prepares you for a loss… Much less the loss of such an amazing young woman. We are deeply saddened by this loss. Many of you had come to know and love Mayci and we ask that you pray for her family and friends during this tragic time,’ the store owners wrote of Breaux.
At a morning press conference, police said Houser was from out of town but had been staying a local motel since the beginning of July.
They say they found wigs and other disguises in his motel room, and that his car – parked just outside the theater door – had a switched license tag on it, suggesting that he planned to flee the shooting and escape.
Witnesses say they saw Houser try to disappear into the crowd rushing for the exits, but that he turned around and went back inside to kill himself when he saw police officers running towards the theater.
‘It looks like he spotted the officers coming in and he turned around and he went against the crowd, and he fired a single gunshot. He was seated in the theater just like everybody else,’ Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft. ‘The information we have at this time indicates that he was by himself, sat by himself and the first two people he shot were sitting right in front of him.’
Not much is known about Houser right now, other than the fact that he was last living in Phenix, Alabama and had apparently become estranged from his family.
Police described him as ‘kind of a drifter’ and say they don’t believe he was working with anyone else.
His only connection to Lafayette was the fact that his uncle once lived there, but has been dead for 35 years.
While he has a long criminal history, Police say Houser hadn’t been arrested very recently. His past charges include selling alcohol to a minor and arson – arrests that date back 10 to 15 years.
In Alabama, records show Houser had four speeding tickets and one no-seatbelt ticket between 1981 and 2003.
Alabama court records show Houser filed a small claims court lawsuit in 2004 claiming he was injured when he donated plasma at a Phenix City donation center. He asked for $1,800 to pay his emergency room bill and for a narcotics prescription. The case was settled, according to court records.
He had been married once in the past but was not currently married.
Overnight, police searched his 1995 blue Lincoln Continental and motel room for possible explosives and found nothing. They also went to Alabama to interview his family and friends, but so far have not released a motive for the massacre.
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