Louisiana gunman was a ‘drifter’ and self-described taxpayer watchdog who tried and failed to get rich quick
Police have identified the gunman who killed two women and wounded seven other people at a Louisiana movie theater before fatally shooting himself.
Investigators said 59-year-old John Russell Houser opened fire Thursday night during a showing of the film, “Trainwreck,” in Lafayette — about 500 miles from his home in Phenix City, Alabama.
Police said Houser, who they described as “kind of a drifter,” fired 13 rounds from a .40-caliber handgun into the theater crowd after watching the movie with them for about 20 minutes.
Officers arrived almost immediately, disrupting Houser’s escape plan, and he turned the gun on himself.
Authorities did not release a possible motive for the mass shooting, which came three years and three days after a gunman massacred 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Investigators said Houser had been in Lafayette since early this month, and they found disguises, including glasses and wigs, at a nearby Motel 6.
Houser was alone and did not wear a disguise during the shooting, police said, but he had switched the license plates on his car parked outside the theater.
“He wasn’t saying anything, I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” said Katie Domingue, who fled the theater with her fiancé.
Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, of Franklin, and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson, of Lafayette.
Houser’s LinkedIn profile indicates failed attempts in a series of get-rich-quick schemes, including efforts to capitalize on a weightlifting craze and flip real estate.
He sold T-shirts in 1975 that identified the wearer as being able to lift 300 pounds, and he operated and sold the Peachtree Pub about 35 years ago in Columbus, Georgia.
Houser claims in his social media profile that he guest hosted more than 60 episodes of “Rise and Shine” on WLTZ-TV in the 1990s, where he “invited political controversy on every one of them, and loved every minute of it.”
He also claims he was a guest 13 times on Doug Kellet’s WRCG-AM talk radio program.
Houser apparently was a frequent speaker at Columbus Water Works board meetings and City Council meetings, where he claims to have helped save millions of dollars by identifying “mega-thousands” of misappropriated expenditures.
Police said Houser had a criminal record, including arson and selling alcohol to a minor, but had not run into any trouble in at least a decade.