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John Russell HOUSER






A.K.A.: "Rusty"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Gunman Kills 2 and Himself at Movie Theater
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: July 23, 2015
Date of birth: November 22, 1955
Victims profile: Mayci Breaux, 21 / Jillian Johnson, 33
Method of murder: Shooting (Hi-Point .40-caliber handgun)
Location: Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
Status: Suicide by gunshot wound to the mouth the same day
photo gallery

2015 Lafayette shooting

On July 23, 2015, a shooting occurred at the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. John Russell Houser, age 59, opened fire during a showing of the film Trainwreck, killing two people and injuring nine others before committing suicide.


The shooting occurred in theater 14 during the 7:10 p.m. screening of Trainwreck, held at the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette, just 60 miles (97 km) west of Baton Rouge. Houser, 59, went to the theater alone, bought a ticket ten minutes late into the movie, and sat for several minutes in the theater's second-to-last row. Including Houser, there were 25 people in the theater and 300 people in the building.

Houser was armed with a Hi-Point .40-caliber handgun and equipped with two 10-round magazines. Shortly before 7:30 p.m., he stood up, pulled out the handgun from his pants, and started shooting indiscriminately while walking down the steps. Houser fired at least 13 rounds and reloaded once. He killed two people and injured nine others.

The first two people he shot were sitting right in front of him. The shooting was contained to one theater. After the shooting ended, Houser exited the theater through a side door and apparently tried to head for his vehicle while blending in with survivors. However, upon noticing police sirens, he retreated back inside the building and fired three more shots at fleeing moviegoers. Then, he committed suicide.

Prior to the shooting, two police officers were already on duty at the 16-screen multiplex. Four other officers responded to the scene in less than a minute after receiving a 7:28 p.m. report of the shooting. After witnessing audiences fleeing and hearing gunshots, they made their way in the auditorium.

Upon entering the theater, two-and-a-half minutes after arrival, they found Houser dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the mouth. His body remained inside the theater for several hours. After the shooting, it was found that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.1, while the legal limit is 0.08.


Following the shooting, the other local Grand Theatre was also closed, while the entire area was locked down as law enforcement officials searched for additional shooters. The Louisiana State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Lafayette Parish Sheriff, and Lafayette Police Department police participated in the investigation. Police believe the shooter acted alone, but have not confirmed a motive.

Upon investigation, officials found that Houser had been staying in a nearby motel, a Motel 6, and discovered wigs, glasses, and disguises. This led officials to believe that he intended on escaping before being cornered by police, leading to his suicide. Furthermore, he illegally switched his license plates near an exit door to the theater, and in his motel room.

On late Thursday night, the police investigated Houser's car, a blue 1995 Lincoln Continental, and found two suspicious objects with wires inside. Fearing that the items might be an explosive, the police halted the investigation. On the morning of July 24, they called the bomb squad, who blew up its windows and trunk.

Similarly, investigators found three objects in the theater that they feared could be explosives and had them examined with a robot. An apartment complex behind the theater was evacuated as a precaution. The objects in the theater and in the car all turned out not to be dangerous. A search of the car later turned up more disguises.

Investigators recovered a 39-page journal belonging to Houser, which contained the name of the theater and the time and date of the screening of Trainwreck, along with random notes and observations. However, the journal did not provide a clear motive behind the shooting. Investigators were also studying posts he made online to determine a motive for the shooting. They finished processing the crime scene at the theater on July 27.

Questions were raised about how Houser was able to obtain the gun used in the shooting. It was initially reported that he had been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment in 2008, which would have legally prohibited him from purchasing firearms.

However, it was later determined that he was able to purchase the gun because a judge never committed him and instead had him undergo a mental health evaluation. Once the evaluation was done, medical authorities either had to release him, convince him to commit himself voluntarily for treatment, or petition a court to force him to undergo treatment. They never petitioned the court, but it was unclear if Houser was released or voluntarily committed. His 2008 evaluation was never officially reported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The Grand 16 theater was shut down after the shooting. It reopened four months later on November 19, after a ceremony honoring the victims.

On January 13, 2016, police released a 589-page report of the shooting and photos of Houser's motel room.


John Russell "Rusty" Houser (November 22, 1955 – July 23, 2015) had a history of anti-government and far-right views, including those on race, gender, and the future of the U.S.

Personal life

Houser, who had been estranged from his family, was described as a wayfarer and a drifter. According to law enforcement, he was raised in Columbus, Georgia, and graduated from Columbus High School and Columbus Technical College. According to an online LinkedIn account belonging to him, he also attended Columbus State University and Faulkner University.

Houser owned a number of bars in Georgia. He once attended law school but dropped out. His last recorded residence was in Phenix City, Alabama, where he purchased his firearm at the Money Miser Northside Pawn shop in February 2014. In 2006, Houser tried to get a concealed carry permit, but he was denied it due to his arson arrest and domestic violence complaint.

Mental health problems

Houser was said to have mental health issues, for which he was treated in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Houser underwent a mental health evaluation. According to his wife, he suffered from bipolar disorder.

Houser had some previous arrest and complaint records including arson, domestic violence, stalking, and selling alcohol to a minor, although these records were at least a decade old. In 2008, his wife and daughter, along with his daughter's then-fiancé and his parents, issued a protective order against him during his mental health evaluation.

The order cited his violent and erratic behavior and reasoned that he had tried to stop his daughter and her fiancé from marrying. Houser's wife also hid his guns away from him for protection. After the order was issued, his family members apparently ceased contact with him.

In 2014, when Houser was faced with the threat of eviction from his home in Alabama, he booby-trapped the house by twisting out and igniting the gas starter tube in the fireplace, after removing the logs, in an attempt to make the house catch on fire.

In March 2015, a week after his wife filed for divorce, Houser called her and threatened her, then went to a retirement community where his mother lived. There, he threatened to commit suicide outside if she didn't give him money. The mother called Houser's wife and was urged by her to have him hospitalized again. Instead, she gave Houser $5,000.

Prior to the shooting

Houser is said to have entered Louisiana around July 2 or 3 and spent his time exploring the state along Interstate 10, apparently searching for a location to attack. During the week of July 13, Houser visited a food bank in Lake Charles twice and requested aid from them. He had been at the Grand 16 theater at least once before, and had also visited several other movie theaters in the state. According to witnesses at one theater, Houser was dressed up to look like a woman and was behaving erratically. Houser also appeared to have made some getaway plans.

Houser's only known connection to Lafayette was an uncle who once lived there, but died in 1980. It was believed by investigators that he was traveling to Texas and Lafayette was simply a stopping point.

On July 27, The Hollywood Reporter reported that investigators believed Houser chose to commit the shooting in a theater playing Trainwreck due to its feminist themes and characters, as well as its lead actor's Jewish background. Houser was said to have been a misogynist and praised the actions of Adolf Hitler on online message boards.


Two women were killed by Houser in the shooting. One died at the scene, while the other died at a nearby hospital. They are:

Mayci Breaux, age 21, of Franklin, Louisiana, who died at the theater. She was a student at Louisiana State University Eunice and worked at the Coco Eros boutique. She died from a single gunshot wound. She was accompanied at the theater by her boyfriend, Matthew Rodriguez, who was injured in the neck and in the armpit.

Jillian Johnson, age 33, of Lafayette, who died at the hospital. She operated a gift and toy shop in Lafayette and played ukulele and guitar for a band called The Figs. She died from two gunshot wounds. She was accompanied at the theater by her friend Julia Egedahl, who was injured in the torso and suffered serious fractures.

The injuries of the survivors ranged from light to critical and were inflicted either from gunshots and/or during accidents while fleeing. The victims' ages ranged from the late teens to their 60s. Among the injuries were two women who were friends and employees at a local high school. One of them, a librarian, jumped on top of the second woman, a schoolteacher, to save her life and was shot through the leg. Both women were ultimately shot, but the woman who was jumped on was able to stand up and pull the fire alarm.

Also injured were the cousin of Louisiana Representative Charles Boustany and her husband. Egedahl, the last victim discharged, left Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center on August 14. One victim was shot four times.

Responses to the shooting

Political response

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal traveled to the scene of the shooting and said he was praying for the victims. He praised the actions of law enforcement during the shooting.

U.S. Senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana both released statements expressing their sorrow for the victims of the shooting, and that they were praying for them.

Authorities in Louisiana and Alabama criticized the lack of funding for mental health services in the U.S., following the emergence of Houser's mental problems.

Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton stated that she is planning on drafting a bill to the criminal justice committee she serves on, which would require all movie theaters in Louisiana to have a metal detector.

Theater and film response

Amy Schumer, who wrote and starred in the film being shown as the shooting occurred, posted on her Twitter account, "My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana." She later joined U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a cousin of her father's, in calling for stricter gun control and increased mental health funding.

Universal Studios, the film's distributor, also released a statement, saying, "All of us at Universal Pictures send our heartfelt sympathies to the victims of this senseless tragedy and their families in Louisiana."

The theater and its parent company, the Southern Theatres, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Security was increased at the other Grand movie theater in Kenner, Louisiana, and at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner. They later issued a statement, in which they said, "All of us offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims and the community of Lafayette. We are grateful to all local officials and to the governor for their efforts."

Gunman Kills 2 and Himself at Movie Theater in Lafayette, La.

By Leslie Turk and Liam Stack - The New York Times

July 23, 2015

Lafayette, La. — Three people died and nine were wounded after a gunman opened fire in a movie theater here on Thursday night, officials said. The gunman was among the dead.

The shooting took place shortly before 7:30 p.m. during a showing of the comedy “Trainwreck” at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, a 16-screen multiplex on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city. Chief Jim Craft of the Lafayette Police Department said that police officers entered the theater complex while the shooting was going on. When they got inside the theater, they found the gunman dead of a self-inflicted wound.

Chief Craft said three people were killed, including the gunman, and the wounded had been taken to nearby hospitals. The conditions of the wounded, he said, “range from non life-threatening to critical.”

The victims ranged from teenagers to people in their 60s, the chief said. One victim was in surgery, he said, and “was not doing well.”

Video The morning after a shooting rampage in a Louisiana movie theater on Thursday, the police confirmed that nine people had been injured and three people, including the gunman, had died.

Chief Craft, who described the crime scene as “pretty chaotic,” said a handgun was used in the attack. He did not release the name of the gunman, and he said it was too soon to know his motive.

The chief said the police had determined the identity of the gunman and found that he had a criminal history, “but it looks like it’s pretty old.” Addresses in Louisiana and several other states had been found for the gunman, the chief said.

Not sure that he is from Louisiana, Chief Craft said, “I think he’s from out of state.”

Sgt. Brooks David of the Louisiana State Police said the gunman was a 58-year-old “lone white male.”

The investigation inside the theater was briefly halted late Thursday night when the police found the gunman’s vehicle and found what they said was a “suspicious package” inside. A bomb squad was called, and early on Friday, the vehicle’s windows and trunk were blown up. The car was to be towed from the lot.

Sergeant Brooks said a suspicious backpack and other small items found in the theater were being examined. A robot was brought in for use in the investigation.

The dead would not be removed from the theater, Sergeant Brooks said, until it was determined that it was safe for investigators and the coroner to enter.

An apartment complex behind the theater was evacuated as a precaution, the police said.

Tanya Clark, 36, who was at the theater to see another movie, was at the concession stand with her three children when she saw people run screaming through the lobby.

“I thought it was just a joke,” said her son, Robert Martinez, 17. “People were screaming.”

He said that a woman in her 60s ran past them shouting that she had been shot in the leg. He saw blood pouring down her leg, he said.

Ms. Clark said she grabbed her 5-year-old daughter and ran, leaving her purse and phone on the concession stand counter.

“I just grabbed her arm,” she said. “In that moment, you don’t think about anything. That’s when you realize that your wallet and phone are not important.”

Paige Bearb, a moviegoer who was in a theater next to the one where the shooting took place, said, “We could hear people screaming next door.”

An alarm soon sounded, and she ran outside.

“As we were running for our car, I could see people with gunshot wounds and one lady bleeding from the leg with a T-shirt wrapped around it,” she said.

At the request of the police, a spokesman for Lafayette General Health, which runs a number of hospitals in the region, declined to comment on Thursday night.

Col. Michael Edmonson, the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said there was no information to indicate any relationship between the gunman and any of the victims. He said that roughly 100 people were inside the auditorium at the time of the shooting.

Chief Craft said the Lafayette Police Department had increased security at other theaters in the city as a precaution.

President Obama was briefed on the shooting while enroute to Africa for a visit, the White House said, and asked aides to keep him updated on the situation.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who traveled to the scene of the shooting on Thursday night, described it as “senseless.”

“When these kinds of acts of violence happen in a movie theater, when there’s no real good reason why this kind of evil should intrude on the lives of families who are just out for a night of entertainment, I know a lot of us are horrified and shocked,” Mr. Jindal said.

He added: “This is an awful night for Lafayette. This is an awful night for Louisiana. This is an awful night for the United States.”

Mr. Jindal said that he had spoken to two teachers who were wounded in the shooting. One “literally jumped” on top of the other to shield her, he said, potentially saving her life. One of the teachers who was shot in the leg “had the presence of mind to pull the fire alarm and save other lives” after she had been wounded, he said.

Lafayette, an oil and gas hub, has about 125,000 people and is Louisiana’s fourth-largest city. It is on Interstate 10 about two hours west of New Orleans and one hour west of Baton Rouge, the capital.

The pro-Hitler rants of Louisiana theater gunman who idolized Timothy McVeigh and called for lone wolf attacks on the 'failing filth farm' of America

By Ashley Collman - and Associated Press and Martin Gould In Lafayette, Louisiana

July 24, 2015

  • John Russel Houser, 59, killed two and injured nine when he opened fire at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana Thursday night.

  • He is a law school graduate who once ran for political office and owned two pubs over the years, one which was shut down for underage drinking.

  • After the pub was shut down he hung a swastika flag outside for several weeks as a sign of protest.

  • He also tried to hire a man to light a law office on fire in the 1980s because the lawyer represented pornographic theaters, which he detested.

  • Houser has also been revealed to be an active online commenter, who has professed his distaste with the state of the American economy and morals.

  • He was a supporter of the Tea Party and Westboro Baptist Church while also applauding the actions of Hitler and Timothy McVeigh.

  • Court documents also show that he suffered from mental illness and that his family had him committed to a mental hospital in 2008.

  • His ex-wife, Kellie Maddox Houser, said she became so afraid of him that she hid their weapons, according to another 2008 court document.

John Russel Houser was both a supporter of the far-right Tea Party, the extremist Christian Westboro Baptist Church and even Adolf Hitler web accounts connected to the 59-year-old Louisiana theater shooter reveal.

Houser, who went by the name Rusty, committed suicide Thursday night after opening fire in a screening of the movie Trainwreck at a Lafayette, Louisiana theater- killing two others and injuring nine.

Houser also owned two short-lived bars - Rusty's Buckhead Pub which was open for just two years in Lagrange, Georgia between 1998 and 2000 and Peachtree Pub which was open for a year and a half in Columbus, Georgia and closed in 1980.

He lost his liquor license at Rusty's Pub in 2001 for serving minors, and responded by hanging a flag the size of a bed sheet on the building featuring a swastika for several week.

He said this was because the police were acting like the Nazis.

'The people who used it - the Nazis - they did what they damn well pleased,' Houser told the LaGrange Daily News of the swastika symbol at the time.

Houser was also arrested on arson charges in the 1980s after hiring a hitman to set fire to the law offices of a man who represented a string of pornographic theaters.

The hitman ended up being a police informant.

The lawyer, John Swearingen, agreed to not press charges, despite Houser allegedly saying he did not care if the man died, as long as he received mental health treatment.

NBC News obtained a 1989 mental evaluation of Houser in which Swearingen, said; 'He was very intent on burning down the law office. He was some kind of religious fanatic and as I recall he said God told him to do it.'

Houser, the son of a former city tax commissioner and a law school graduate, also ran for office at one point trying to obtain the same position, but withdrew from the election after he was accused of stealing his opponent's lawn signs and a reporter informed he that the paper would be reporting on his previous arson arrest.

'He came to many City Council meetings and he was in tune with a lot of issues that were going on in the community,' said former Columbus Mayor Bobby Peters.

'He was very outspoken, highly intelligent, really didn't trust government and anything about government. He always thought something was going on behind the scenes. He came across with a very conservative agenda.'

Online profiles connected to Houser are also revealing more details about him and paint a picture of a paranoid man who felt that American economic policy and morals were bringing about an end of days.

'America is so sick that I now believe it to be the enemy of the world. I know next to nothing about Iran, but the little I do tell me they are far higher morally than this financially failing filth farm,' Houser, who goes by Rusty, wrote in a December 2013 post on an apparently conservative Christian website called Fellowship of the Minds.

Also that month, Houser wrote on his Facebook, asking for help translating Iranian newspapers.

He spoke highly of the Middle East as well in his profile for the site InterPals, an online community for making friends around the world.

'Learning about the people of the Middle East is most important to me. They have been painted as scum by the 'establishment media,' wrote Houser in his profile.

'It appears they are exactly the opposite, that they are family people. That is the highest status that a people can achieve, and it is what America has lost.'

He said he was hoping to makes friends with Middle Eastern people on the site.

In yet another bizarre Facebook post, Houser preached a strict adherence to the Bible, while condemning America at the same time.

'The bible doesn't ask me to like what it says, only to obey it. Death comes soon to the financially failing filth farm called the US.'

Many of Houser's posts dealt with what he believed to be an inevitable end of days, spurred on by disintegrating American morals.

Commenting on a news story about a man who was found murdered at his deer-processing business in 2013, Houser wrote: 'I am sincerely sorry for the loss of this fellow in the deer processing business. Most people over 50 in certain businesses are just as their parents were, rock solid morally.'

But when he continued, the post took a turn.

'I am also sorry for what is to come for the other very few moral souls left in the entire US. I am not sorry for the 90 per cent immoral population which will be meeting the same fate.

'Filth is rampant. That none have stood against it causes me to take rest in the worst than MAD MAX future which approaches,' Houser said.

Houser also had a profile on the conservative website Tea Party Nation, and described himself elsewhere online as 'very conservative' and asked for help finding white-power groups.

And in a Twitter account connected to Houser's name, he once voiced support of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church.

'The Westboro Baptist Church may be the last real church in America [members not brainwashed],' Houser wrote.

In line with a far-right ideology, Houser apparently went on a Georgia radio show several times in the 1990s to preach against abortion.

Calvin Floyd, who hosted a morning call-in show on WLTZ-TV in Columbus, Georgia, says Houser also espoused other radical views, including his opposition to women in the workplace. Floyd, now 71, says he would put Houser on with a Democrat because 'he could make the phones ring.'

Floyd described Houser, as an 'angry man' who made 'wild accusations' about all sorts of local officials and topics.

'If you gave me 40 names and 40 pictures of people who might have done that, I wouldn’t have hesitated to point him out,' Floyd told The New York Times in an interview.

'I could just sense the anger was there. Maybe I should have been afraid of him. He had a very hostile personality at times.'

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it has had John Russell Houser's name in its files since 2005, when he registered at former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization conference.

In online forums, Houser wrote of the 'power of the lone wolf' and expressed interest in white power groups, anti-Semitic ideas and the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which protests soldiers' funerals, the center said.

'Hitler is loved for the results of his pragmatism,' Houser wrote in January on the website

'There is no question of his being the most successful that ever lived. At this time the US is no more than a financially failing filth farm. Soon the phrase "ruling with an iron hand" will be palatable anew.'

In another post on the Golden Dawn website, he said: 'It is a shame Tim McVeigh is not going to be with us to enjoy the hilarity of turning the tables with an IRON HAND.'

On another site he wrote; 'Here is something that is truly funny: since I accepted this it came to me that the president is doing exactly what Tim McVeigh did,only the president is much more effective.

'The way I see it, the faster he wrecks this nation, which in no way resembles what it’s founders envisioned, the faster working people with morals may re-assume command.'

In that same thread he also wrote; 'For the few who will understand this, it is my hope that you will see to one preparation for the coming downfall, which will be worse than a Mad Max scenario.

'That preparation is not storing up canned goods, munitions, etc, but to gather what will be necessary to put in your families food to insure a painless and certain death should the need arise.'

Court records have also revealed that Houser's wife and family asked for a temporary protective order in 2008 against him, for 'extreme erratic behavior' and making 'disturbing statements.'

His wife also made a domestic violence complaint against him in 2005.

The documents said even though he lived in Phenix City, Alabama, he had come to Carroll County, Georgia, where they lived and 'perpetrated various acts of family violence.'

Houser 'has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder' the filing said.

The filing says Houser's wife, Kellie Maddox Houser, 'has become so worried about the defendant's volatile mental state that she has removed all guns and/or weapons from their marital residence.'

The protection order was at least temporarily granted. She filed for divorce in March.

The family members also tried to have him involuntarily committed in 2008 'because he was a danger to himself and others,' they said in court documents.

A judge approved the order at the time and Houser was taken to a hospital in Columbus, Georgia.

While he was at the Carroll County Sheriff's Office awaiting transfer to the hospital, Houser said to his wife that once he got out of the hospital, 'he would continue his erratic as well as threatening behavior' to try to stop his daughter's wedding, the filing said.

It's still uncertain exactly why Houser decided to target the crowd at the screening of Trainwreck, a movie about a young woman struggling with commitment, as he killed himself in the immediate aftermath.

Authorities are investigating whether the gun was bought legally and whether it was purchased by Houser.

It is known that he was denied a concealed carry permit in Alabama in 2006, according to the sheriff of Phenix City where Houser last had an address.

The sheriff said Friday that they had denied the permit based on an prior report of domestic violence and arson.

He also confirmed that Houser had been getting treatment for mental illness in the area in 2008 and 2009.

Police say that Houser was a 'drifter' and that his last residence was in Phenix City, Alabama. They say he had been staying in a hotel in Lafayette since early July and that his only connection to the area was an uncle who 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.

On his LinkedIn profile, Houser describes himself as an entrepreneur who holds degrees in both accounting and law but his last listed job was as a real estate developer nearly a decade ago.

Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, said the gunman, John Russel Houser, earned an accounting degree from there in 1988.

His brother Rem Houser, told CNN he just saw his brother last month for the first time in 10 years.

'He just needed some money to continue moving on, living, surviving, so we gave him some, and that was the last we heard of him. We hadn't heard of him in probably 10 years prior to that, and hadn't heard from him since,' he said.

He then revealed that after giving his brother the money he did not speak with him again.

The mother of Houser also sent him $5,000 in recent weeks while he was scrounging round food banks in towns throughout Louisiana, police revealed late Friday.

Houser, who was living in a $54-a-night Motel 6 on the outskirts of the university town was clearly hurting for money, said Col. Mike Edmondson, the head of the Louisiana State Police.

'It was $5,000 — in cash,' Edmondson told Daily Mail Online after a press conference outside the Grand Theater where, less than 24 hours earlier Houser had emptied two 10-round magazines into a crowd watching the comedy movie Trainwreck.

It is also known that Houser, who police describe as a drifter, went to a church-run food bank in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 75 miles east of where he carried out his deadly rampage, where he got cash and food.

Police know that Houser, 59, had planned an elaborate exit. He parked his car on the west side of the 16-screen megaplex right next to an emergency exit which led directly from Theater 14 where Trainwrecks was showing.

He left the keys on to of one of his tires so he could quickly grab them and drive away. Inside was a wig he could put on to hide his identity.

But two police officers, a sergeant and a patrol officer were already in the parking lot comparing notes when the 911 call came through alerting cops to the shooting. They rushed in as he was coming out.

'He re-entered the theater, fired three more rounds and with the fourth round he took his own life,' said Lafayette police chief Jim Craft.

Craft, Edmondson and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke to reporters minutes after touring the theater. Edmondson said he saw Craft close to tears as they saw how audience members had abandoned their soft drinks and snacks and ran for their lives.

That debris remained in the blood-spattered theater. In the lobby a woman's purse still sat at the concessions stand where it had been abandoned. One room was still set up ready for a children's birthday party.

'I followed the chief in there,' said Edmondson. 'This was the first time for him to go into that particular theater — and this is his town.

'I know him well as a friend and as a father, but this was a horrific scene in there to see where the projectiles were, the sticks coming out of the seats, to see the blood on the floor — to actually smell it.

'I watched his reaction, I watched him take it all in. This is a small town right near a university and that is why we must do everything we can to bring closure to these families.'

There were more than 100 people in the theater complex, 25 of whom were watching the Trainwreck screening. None of those were armed, said Craft.

Off-duty police normally provide security at the theater on Friday and Saturday nights only, he said. As Thursday is a relatively light night for attendance there was no security in the complex.

Edmondson said state police have been combing through Houser's online comments. 'He makes rants about the government, he makes rants about different situations around the United States and around the world. We will pull each one of those out, we will interview as many people as possible.

He said they had already started to investigate in Lake Charles and Baton Rouge, towns he is known to have visited. 'Why was he there? Who was he talking to? What can we get out of that as we put this puzzle that has many, many pieces, back together.

Two women were killed and nine others hit by bullets, all of those are expected to survive. Craft said four have been released from the hospital, three are now in stable condition and the ninth is critical 'but that may perhaps be upgraded to guarded tonight,' said Craft.

Craft said the fact only two people lost their lives was 'something of a miracle.' Jindal put it down to the heroics of the two officers who 'ran toward danger not away from it,' and the fact that the city police had recently bought special kits to care for officers downed by gunfire. Those kits were used to help the victims, and Jindal said, saved many lives.

Houser used a high-point, .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun,' said Craft. It was bought legally at a pawn shop in Phenix City in February 2014. All 20 shots from the two magazines were fired, said Craft. Fifteen of those shell casings have been recovered. Police believe he deliberately picked a seat toward the back of the theater so he could shoot those in front of him.

Breaux was sitting directly in front of Houser with her boyfriend Matthew Rodriguez.

'This wasn’t a sudden burst,' said Jindal. 'It appears this was slow and methodical. This was a gunman who took his time. It was barbaric, an execution.'

Now cops are reconstructing the scene inside the theater. 'Our investigators have been able to determine which seats people were in when they were shot,' said Craft. 'Once we are able to interview witnesses regarding where they were seated we will be able to recreate the scene in the theater just seconds before the shooting took place.

Pat Gregory, a spokesman for Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, said Houser enrolled in the college's law school in 1994 and graduated in 1998, but the Alabama State Bar said it did not have record of House ever applying to take the bar exam.

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 it appears he has become estranged.

Exclusive: Brother of Trainwreck gunman says he was on a 'slow march to the dark side' as neighbor reveals murderer

By Louise Boyle - Daily Mail Online

July 26, 2015

  • 'Killed 300 koi carp from his pond and spread the body parts around'.

  • Rem Houser spoke to Daily Mail Online from his lakeside home in Hamilton, Georgia on Saturday.

  • 'We want answers too but we are not going to get answers,' he said.

  • Rem Houser said that he believed his estranged sibling had been on a slow march to the dark side.

  • Another neighbor said: 'He has about 300 koi carp in his pond and he killed them then started spreading the fish parts everywhere'.

The brother of the man who killed two women and injured nine others in the Louisiana movie theater shooting told Daily Mail Online today that he believed his estranged sibling had been on a slow march to the dark side.

Rem Houser spoke to Daily Mail Online from his lakeside home in Hamilton, Georgia, on Saturday about John Russel Houser, 59.

John Houser opened fire at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette on Thursday night, where more than 100 people were watching the 7pm screening of the movie, Trainwreck.

John Houser killed Jillian Johnson, 33, and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, before taking his own life when cornered by police.

His brother Rem struggled to comprehend his brother's actions and said that his family were praying for the families of the two women who had been killed along with those victims recovering in hospital.

Rem Houser said: 'We want answers too but we are not going to get answers. How can you get answers out of somebody who has been mentally ill?

'This has been going on for 20 years with our family. We have been separated from him (John Houser) for probably 20-something years.'

Rem Houser described growing up with his brother, known as Rusty, in suburban Georgia.

'Growing up, we were middle Americans, an average family. Rusty played sports, I played sports,' he said.

'Everything was great, then he started getting dark on us and went quiet after college. He just started drifting out on us, I don't know what happened. I don't know what mental illness or any of that.

'He just started separating from us. We didn't have any problems. We weren't mad; he wasn't mad, he just went quiet on us.

'He went from a very active, fun guy to be around to very quiet and calm socially.

'I think a lot of it comes with age. I think the older that people get, whatever the issues are, the more they are.'

He added: 'I think it was a slow march to the dark side. We had seen him getting darker.'

Police said John Houser last lived in Phenix City, Alabama, but had been evicted from his home in 2014.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said on Friday that police received a domestic violence complaint against Houser in 2005, but the victim didn't want to prosecute.

Houser applied for a concealed weapons permit in 2006, according to police, but was refused because of the domestic violence complaint and a previous arrest for arson in nearby Columbus, Georgia.

Police confirmed Houser had purchased the handgun legally at pawn shop in Alabama last year, and that he had been to the Lafayette movie theater prior to the shooting.

In recent years, Houser had become 'kind of a drifter', police said, but do not believe that he was working with anyone else.

Houser's only connection to Lafayette was the fact that his uncle once lived there, but has been dead for 35 years.

While Houser had a criminal history, police said, the 59-year-old had not been arrested recently. His past charges included selling alcohol to a minor and arson - arrests that date back 10 to 15 years.

Court records also revealed that his family once tried to put him in a psychiatric hospital and that his ex-wife Kellie Maddox Houser hid firearms from him, fearing for her own safety.

Rem Houser added: 'I think what tipped him over was his wife... They have been separated for five years and then she finally said, 'I have to move on', and she filed for divorce.

'She was paying for the house, he wasn't working and then the bank foreclosed on it and forced him out.

'I think all of this just sent him over the edge. I think he was fragile, quiet, living his life peacefully in his house and nothing was setting him off, everything was ok, and then you're put out on the street basically.

He continued: 'I think it just sent him over the edge. And then he disappeared.'

Mr Houser last saw his brother John about two months ago. He said: 'He needed some money so my mother gave him some money.

'I gave him the money and we had a little text [message] contact but nothing that told us anything.

'Before then, I hadn't seen him or heard from him in about ten years until two months ago when I gave him the cash he needed from my mother. He disappeared, we didn't know where he was, we hadn't heard from him.

'Then this whole thing - we never thought he had the capability to do this. He showed no signs.'

Mr Houser found out about the shooting when the FBI came to his home on Friday morning at 3am.

He said: 'He's definitely mentally unstable but not a violent guy. Not something where you think, 'Hey we need some help', we didn't see any of that. We are all shocked.

'Everyone is trying to get an answer but you're not going to find one, none of us are. You can't understand a person that is mentally out of it, that is mentally deranged.'

Rem Houser said he had no idea about the bizarre extremist online messages his brother had posted.

'I don't know about that; a lot of that stuff I am reading in the newspaper too,' Rem Houser said. 'He's got a lot of basic views on life but the problem was he was so passionate and extreme a person, it made people back off from him.

'I don't like hearing these extreme views on the government and gay rights and abortion. But he was so hopped up on them.'

A neighbor, Russ Lenig, who lives two doors down from Houser's former property, told Daily Mail Online the couple who live between his home and Houser were forced to build a fence.

Mr Lenig said: 'Houser was doing construction on his home and there was trash all over the place. Then he would be outside working on all these cars, cussing and swearing while our neighbors had their young grandkids over.

'When he was kicked out by the bank last year, he poured concrete in the drains and wrecked the house, throwing paint over the walls.

'He had about 300 koi carp in his pond and he killed them, then started spreading the fish parts everywhere.'

Mr Lenig said Houser had once stopped him in the street and offered to let his family use his pool but that he had turned down his offer.

Police confirmed that after Houser was evicted from his Phenix City home in 2014, he returned and caused damage, including pouring concrete in plumbing pipes and tampering with a gas line.

Reverend Brady Baird, the pastor of Summerville United Methodist Church which stands on the corner of Houser's street, told Daily Mail Online that he was a quiet neighbour. The reverend was shocked to find out Houser was behind the tragedy.

Rev Baird said he believed that Houser 'probably suffered from bi-polar disorder or something like that'.

'He was quirky, you knew when he was riding his cycle,' he said. 'But he never showed any violence or outrage or anything like that'.

The reverend said that Houser was evicted from the home in 2014.

He added: 'We didn't know where he was. Not that we were worried about it. He got evicted and he was just gone and he didn't say anything.'



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