Shooting in Louisiana movie theater (All coverage)

Posted on July 23, 2015

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by Bradley Matthews, editing by Adam MS

This coverage is sorted from the latest update, to the original ===

Theater victims were popular student and outgoing artist

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — One was a popular student studying to be a radiology technician, while the other was an outgoing artist who ran retail boutiques in two Louisiana cities.

The two people slain by a gunman who opened fire Thursday in a crowded Louisiana movie theater, Jillian Johnson and Mayci Breaux, had promising careers and the love of friends and family.

“They had a face, they had a name. They had a future. It wasn’t to die in this theater,” said Col. Michael Edmonson, head of Louisiana State Police.

As friends and family tried to make sense of the tragedy, they also shared memories of the two victims. Below are their stories.

JILLIAN JOHNSON

Jillian Johnson, 33, was remembered as an all-around “creative force” who ran clothing and art boutiques, played in a rootsy rock band, helped organize a music festival, and used her design skills on t-shirts and other crafts.

Lucius Fontenot met Johnson while both were studying art at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and he later produced an album for her band called The Figs. The band played as recently as July 17 in New Orleans, according to Facebook.

“She just did the things she wanted to do, and nothing could stop her,” said Fontenot, 37. “She was a creative force, always inspiring and amazing to watch.”

She and her husband, Jason Brown, ran boutiques in Lafayette and New Orleans called Red Arrow Workshop that sold wooden toys, candles and jewelry. The store’s website said she was “obsessed” with Fats Waller, Tina Turner and John Steinbeck and that her favorite movie was “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

“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,” said a message posted on the store’s Facebook page.

Nobody answered the door at the home Johnson shared with her husband, Jason Brown, but there were signs of the tragedy as a delivery truck driver left flowers at the front porch.

“I just can’t believe this. Not Jillian. Not Brown. They’re good people,” said next-door neighbor Nolan Martin Sr., 57.

Martin said Johnson planted fruit trees throughout the neighborhood — peaches, figs and locally grown mandarin oranges called satsumas — so her neighbors and people heading to a nearby homeless shelter could stop for snacks.

“She was trying to beautify the neighborhood, uplift the people around here to take care of their homes,” Martin said.

Tyler Thigpen met Johnson in 2011 as part of a team forming a nonprofit focused on local food. Johnson showed her personal commitment by tending a home garden and raising chickens.

“Jillian had this incredible style, passion and talent for things she’d never done before,” Thigpen said. “At 33, she’s done more for the community than most people do in a lifetime. Her involvement and leadership and contributions are really going to be missed.”

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MAYCI BREAUX

Mayci Breaux, 21, was in the first year of an associate’s degree program for medical radiology technicians at Louisiana State University-Eunice.

The head of the program, Robert McLaughlin, described her as a sweet, generous person who was always polite and professional.

“She was the kind of person you want in your program,” McLaughlin said. “She had a lot of potential. I knew she would do well.”

McLaughlin met Mayci Breaux about a year ago as she began taking classes required to apply for the program. McLaughlin said Friday that Breaux’s 25 first-year classmates are grieving as they prepared to finish their first semester.

He gave the students an assignment this summer on why they chose to pursue careers as radiographers.

“She always had an interest in the medical field since being a young girl,” he said. “It’s a different way of thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. She had the knack — it showed in her performance this summer.”

The school about 40 miles northwest of Lafayette issued a statement saying that the campus was mourning.

“This was a senseless tragedy and our thoughts are with all of the victims and their families, as well as the entire Lafayette Community,” the statement said.

The Latest (7/24): Police described alleged shooter as a “drifter.”

The shooter, identified on Friday as John Russel Houser, 59, was described by police as a drifter who was living in a motel.

Police identified the two victims as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson. Nine other people were wounded.

In a press conference early Friday, Lafayette Police Department Chief Jim Craft said that Houser was originally from Alabama and had been in Lafayette since early July.

Embedded image permalinkPolice also found wigs and disguises in a hotel room where Houser was reportedly living, Fox News reported.

Houser fired 13 shots and used a .40-caliber handgun in the attack and had no explosives during the attack, police said. Authorities also said that Houser had parked his car near the theater’s exit.

Houser reportedly tried to leave with others in the theater who were trying to flee, but when he saw police responding he turned into the crowd and shot himself, according to The Associated Press.

Police are still searching for a motive in the shooting, which occurred almost three years to the day after a deadly shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, that killed 12 and injured 58.

Police outside the Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater where a shooting occurred Thursday night.The shooting occurred about 20 minutes into a 7 p.m. screening of the comedy “Trainwreck.” There were nearly 100 people in the theater during the time of the attack.

President Barack Obama has been briefed on the attack while traveling to Kenya, the White House said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) called the incident an awful night for both his state and the nation and praised first responders, USA Today reported.

“Whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us both furious and sad,” Jindal said.

He went on to share a tale of extraordinary heroism: a teacher in the theater who reportedly jumped in front of a bullet headed for her colleague. Another teacher pulled a fire alarm, which helped to clear the theater.

“Even though she was shot in the leg, she had the presence of mind to pull the fire alarm to help save other lives,” Jindal said.

Actress Amy Schumer, who stars in the movie “Trainwreck,” shared her sorrow upon hearing of the shooting.

The Latest: Movie theater shooting suspect’s car identified

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The latest on the shooting at a Lafayette movie theater (times are local):

11:30 p.m.

Officials say they have identified the Lafayette movie theater shooting suspect’s car. Police said at a news conference Thursday that the area was evacuated after suspicious items were spotted in the car and a bomb squad is on the scene.

Col. Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police says people on the scene will likely be hearing the sound of the car’s window and trunk being exploded.

Three people were killed, including the gunman, and seven injured in the shooting.

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10:45 p.m.

The star of the movie showing at the time of a shooting that left three dead and seven injured at a Lafayette theater has tweeted her support for the community.

“My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana,” comedian Amy Schumer posted Thursday night.

According to police, about 100 people were in the theater for a screening of “Trainwreck” when a 58-year-old white man started shooting. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

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10:30 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called for prayers for the families of the movie theater shooting victims.

Three were killed, including the gunman, and seven injured in the shooting Thursday.

“This is an awful night for Lafayette. This is an awful night for Louisiana. This is an awful night for the United States. But we will get through this,” Jindal said at a news conference Thursday night.

He said he’ll be meeting with the families of the victims.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a Republican from Lafayette, echoed the governor’s sentiment and said he is “saddened at the terrible loss of life.”

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10:15 p.m.

Lafayette police Chief Jim Craft says the death toll in the movie theater shooting has increased to three.

Craft said at a news conference that seven victims were wounded and their injuries ranged from not life-threatening to critical.

Authorities have not released the identity of the gunman but say the 58-year-old white man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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10 p.m.

Lafayette police say they know the identity of the gunman in a movie theater shooting but are not releasing it at this point.

Police say the 58-year-old white man died of a self-inflicted gunshot. At least two people were killed in the Thursday night shooting.

They also said they closed other theaters in the area out of precaution.

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9:30 p.m.

An ambulance official is now saying that nine people were brought to the hospital after a shooting at a movie theater Thursday night.

Acadian Ambulance Vice President of Operations Clay Henry had initially said eight people were brought to the hospital after the shooting at the Grand Theatre.

Henry said two people, including the gunman, were pronounced dead on arrival.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tweeted that he was on his way to Lafayette. “Please say a prayer for the victims at the Grand Theatre and their families,” he posted.

below is the original article (11.40pm) ===

Gunman opens fire on La. movie theater, killing 2 and injuring several before killing himself

A gunman opened fire on a movie theater in Lafayette, La. Thursday night, killing at least two people and injuring at least seven before killing himself, police said.

Police Chief Jim Craft said at a news conference around 11 p.m. that police received reports of a shooting at the Grand Theatre 16 around 7:30 p.m. Four officers entered the theater to confront the shooter and found him dead of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Two other people have been confirmed dead.

Police said there are at least seven other injured victims, with injuries ranging from minor to critical and life-threatening. Louisiana State Police Sgt. David Brooks told CNN that all injured victims have been taken to local hospitals.

Craft added that the shooter is a white male in his 50s but are not releasing further information about his identity because of the ongoing investigation. Police say he used a handgun during the shooting.

Police say they have no reason to believe that the shooter targeted anywhere beyond this location, or that there might be another active shooter. They do not yet know the motive.

“We don’t know whether it was a random act, whether it was a domestic situation,” Craft said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-La.) have arrived on the scene.

“There’s no good reason why this act of evil should intrude on the lives of families,” Jindal said at the news conference. “… This is an awful night for Lafayette, this is an awful night for Louisiana, this is an awful night for the United States.”

Lafayette is a city of about 120,000 in southwestern Louisiana, about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge.

About 100 people were inside the theater at the time of the shooting, according to police.

Katie Domingue of nearby Carencro, La., told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser that she was at the theater with her fiance for the 7 p.m. showing of “Trainwreck.” About 20 minutes into the showing, she heard a loud “pop” that she thought came from a firecracker.

“He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either,” Domingue said.

image:AP

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